"We'll watch for Q3 GDP cuts today in response to the soft retail sales data," Peter Boockvar, chief market strategist at the Lindsey Group, emailed.
Bank of America (BAC) rose after its results beat analysts' estimates. The bank's legal costs declined in the quarter. Chipmaker Intel (INTC) fell after reporting earnings and revenue that fell slightly. The company is grappling with declining demand for personal computers.
As of 3:35 p.m. ET, The Dow Jones industrial average (DJI) was down 145 points, or 0.9 percent, to 16,937, with Walmart the heaviest weight, down 10 percent, among its 30 components.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index (SPX) fell nearly 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,996, with consumer staples and discretionary hardest hit among its 10 major sectors.
The Nasdaq composite (COMP) dropped 5 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,791.
Investors also mulled the earnings of three big banks. While Bank of America gained after reporting earnings, JPMorgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) declined. JPMorgan said late Tuesday that its profit climbed 22 percent, but its earnings still fell short of analysts' estimates. Wells Fargo reported a slight gain in profits for the quarter, but its lending margins fell in the quarter.
Economic reports Wednesday had the Commerce Department reporting retail sales rose 0.1 percent in September as consumers opted to save money from lower energy costs. Separate data from the Labor Department had wholesale prices falling 0.5 percent in September