Stocks are scratching around for an excuse to move higher, but bears may keep the pressure on ahead of Friday's jobs report.
Worries about global growth, North Korea's bomb test and another steep slide in oil combined to crush stocks, as traders also worried U.S. economic data was a bit too squishy for corporate earnings to improve.
The S&P 500 fell 26 points to 1,990, and is now down 2.6 percent for the year to date. But that's better than the near-2.9 percent decline in the first three days of last year. The difference this year, however, is that the Fed has already begun a rate hiking cycle and earnings are in decline. The global economy, particularly the headlines from China, continue to spook markets, and there are fears about devaluation of the Chinese currency. Oil also has become a pain trade, with an elusive market bottom.