Stocks fell moderately Wednesday as investors found little reason to extend a year-end buying spree.

The market is more than a month into a fourth-quarter rally that has started to feel halfhearted, with strong early gains in many sessions being whittled away by afternoon selling.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 45.95, or 0.42 percent, to 10,810.91.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 6.33, or 0.5 percent, to 1257.37, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 8.75, or 0.39 percent, to 2252.01.

The only significant data expected Wednesday was a mid-quarter business update from Texas Instruments after the close of regular trading. Data on petroleum inventories came in better than expected, but that didn't improve Wall Street's mood.

Bear Stearns's strategy team said in a note this week: "The market is overbought, in our view, and, amidst a prolonged Fed tightening phase, it is difficult to see how leading indicators could continue to accelerate from here. If anything, it appears the market is setting itself up for a difficult start to the New Year."

The rally, Bear strategists said, "has more to do with sentiment than fundamentals."


Ford Motor rose 9 cents, to $8.20, on the latest reports about its restructuring plans. Its board of directors is meeting Wednesday and Thursday to consider restructuring plans, the company said.

Texas Instruments sharpened but stayed closed to its profit and revenue forecast for the fourth quarter. The company's stock rose 27 cents, to $33.56, in the regular session and gained even more in after-hours trading.

Gannett rose $1.14, to $60.33, after the chief executive said the company would take a "hard look" at any potential acquisition opportunities, including Knight Ridder, a major newspaper company that has been forced by its largest shareholders to explore a sale.

3M fell 32 cents, to $77.38, after it named George W. Buckley, the chairman and chief executive of boatmaker Brunswick, as its chairman, president and chief executive, effective immediately.


New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 44.58, to 7731.27.

American Stock Exchange index rose 2.19, to 1749.92.

Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 3.85, to 683.73.


NYSE: 2.13 billion shares, down from 2.17 billion on Tuesday. Decliners outnumbered advancers 5 to 3.

Nasdaq: 1.76 billion shares, down from 1.82 billion. Decliners outnumbered advancers 5 to 3.


Crude oil for January delivery: $59.21, down 73 cents.

Gold for current delivery: $514.30 a troy ounce, up from $510.20 on Tuesday.