Stocks began trading tentatively for the second consecutive day as investors looked at upbeat vehicle sales data and disappointing factory orders.
The Commerce Department said new orders for manufactured goods rose 1.3 percent in February, just shy of expectations. Autodata Corp., however, reported Ford Motor Co. sales up 5.1 percent in March compared to March 2011. Chrysler Group reported a 34 percent sales jump. General Motors reported its sales up 12 percent from March 2011 to last month.
In early afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 55.52 points to 13,208.97, off 0.42 percent.
The Nasdaq composite index gave up 4.18 points, to 3,115.93, up 0.12 percent. The Standard and Poor's 500 index shed 6.12 points to 1,412.92, a 0.43 percent drop.
The 10-year treasury note was yielding 2.163 percent as prices rose 9/32.
The euro rose to 1.3334 from Monday's $1.332. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 82.16 from Monday's 82.08 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index shed 0.59 percent, 59.48 points, to 10,050.39.
In London, the FTSE 100 index slipped 0.62 percent, 36.55, to 5,838.34.