The stock market managed to steady itself Wednesday after hearing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's plans to dismantle the central bank's supports for the economy.
The talk of a smaller role for the Fed in U.S. markets came as investors looked for the opposite overseas. Investors are hoping European Union countries will extend a bailout to Greece. The country is facing big budget gaps. There is concern that financial woes in Greece as well as in Portugal, Ireland and Spain could spread and threaten a global economic recovery.
"We're in a messy transition period," said Paul Ballew, chief economist at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio. "While you see policy-makers back off in some areas, you're going to continue to see them intervene in other areas."
Officials said the EU member nations have made no decisions yet about how to help Greece. A gathering of EU officials is scheduled for Thursday.
The Dow fell 20.26 points, or 0.2 percent, to 10,038.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.39, or 0.2 percent, to 1,068.13, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 3.00, or 0.1 percent, to 2,147.87.
The dollar rose against most currencies. Crude oil rose 77 cents to $74.52 a barrel in New York trading.- AP