U.S. stocks declined on Wednesday, with Wall Street retreating after a sixth day of gains for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, after data had new home sales declining in March and companies including Boeing and AT&T reported quarterly results.
"We've rallied for six consecutive days. You know what you're supposed to do on the seventh," said Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.
"Earnings are coming out, and for the most part are either mixed or positive," said Stephen Carl, head equity trader at Williams Capital Group.
Boeing shares gained after the plane manufacturer t in the first quarter, topping expectations. AT&T slid as the number of customers chose to pay a premium for smartphones to get a lower bill in the future.
Biotech shares declined a day after Amgen posted earnings below estimates.
"The U.S. recovery remains in fits and starts," Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, emailed after the Commerce Department reported new home sales fell 14.5 percent in March, the worst sales month since July.
The Markit survey of U.S. purchasing managers came in at 55.4 for April, below estimates of 56.0.
"It's still indicative of expansion, but not as good as the month before, and not the robust growth we thought we'd see," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.
Stocks rose on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 extending its longest winning run since September, with investors enthusiastic after a round of quarterly earnings and a pickup in M&A activity.
Recovering some from a 37-point fall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 12.72 points, or just under 0.1 percent, to 16,501.65, with AT&T and Home Depot pacing blue-chip declines and Boeing leading gains.
The fell 4.16 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,875.39, with telecommunications hardest hit and energy faring best among its 10 major sectors.
Apple slid ahead of reporting earnings after Wednesday's close. The consumer technology company is the largest contributor to the S&P 500, making up 3.69 percent, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices.
Apple repurchased $16 billion in shares in the second quarter of 2013, the current quarterly record, and announced another $14 billion in January, "so look for a potential new quarter record" Wednesday, Silverblatt said.
The Nasdaq 34.49 points, or declined 0.8 percent, to 4,126.97.
"Although Gilead Sciences had a big beat, most of the other big cap biotech names headed south and took other Nasdaq names with it," said Spar.
Decliners ended a step ahead of advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where nearly 662 million shares traded. Composite volume neared 3.1 billion.
The dollar fell against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners; the yield on the 10-year Treasury note used in figuring mortgage rates and other consumer loans fell 3 basis points to 2.686 percent.
"The market is -- I don't want to say bracing -- but waiting for something to develop one way or the other," said Stephen Carl, head equity trader at Williams Capital Group.
—By CNBC's Kate Gibson
Coming Up This Week:
Earnings: Microsoft, Amazon.com, Caterpillar, Verizon, 3M, General Motors, UPS, United Continental, Timken, Starbucks, Freeport-McMoRan, Entergy, Jet Blue, Hershey, Imax, Noble Energy, Under Armour, T. Rowe Price, Stanley Black and Decker, Starwood, Broadcom, Applied Micro Nasdaq OMX, KKR, Peabody Energy, Potash, PulteGroup, Raytheon, Quest Diagnostics, Occidental Petroleum, NY Times, Novartis, Nucor, Altria, AstraZeneca, Amerisource Bergen, Alexion Pharma, Avnet, Brunswick, Bemis, Cabot Oil and Gas, Delphi Automotive,Eli Lilly, Dunkin Brands, DR Horton, Celgene, Pandora
8:30 a.m.: Weekly claims
8:30 a.m.: Durable goods
11:00 a.m.: Kansas City Fed survey
1:00 p.m.: $29 billion 7-year Treasury auction
Earnings: Ford, Colgate-Palmolive, Goodyear Tire, Honda Motors,Moody's, Covidien, VF Corp, Weyerhaeuser, Dana Holding, Tyco, WPP Group, State Street, AON, American Electric Power
8:58 a.m.: Services PMI
9:55 a.m.: Consumer sentiment
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