Stocks in New York slipped early Wednesday in a holiday-shortened week with the Standard & Poor's 500 index's year hanging in the balance.
An auction of six-month Italian Treasury notes was met with enough demand to pull the average yield down from 6.504 percent a month ago to 3.251 percent. The auction sent stocks in Europe higher, but the enthusiasm did not stretch overseas to Wall Street.
The S&P 500 index was in the black for the year Tuesday, but midmorning trading Wednesday shaved off 10.76 points, 0.85 percent, to 1,254.67, pushing the index back into the red.
The Dow Jones industrial average shed 81.43 points, 0.66 percent, to 12,209.92. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index lost 24.02 points, 0.01 percent, to 2,601.18.
The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 15/32 to yield 1.956 percent.
The euro fell to $1.2953 from Tuesday's $1.3071. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 77.90 yen from Tuesday's 77.88 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index shed 0.2 percent, 16.94, to 8,423.62.