Germany reported that its economy, the largest in Europe, shrank slightly at the end of last year. And the European Union revised its figures for economic growth in the third quarter to 0.1 percent, its slowest pace in more than two years.
“Europe is still the main risk,” said Jeffrey Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial. “Yes, they’ve been making progress on their budgets, but they clearly have growth problems.”
The Dow dropped 13.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 12,449.45 in another day of light trading. The other two main U.S. indexes eked out slight gains.
The European Commission also said Hungary has taken “no effective action” to contain its budget deficit. Stock markets in Germany and France fell slightly, and the euro dropped half a penny against the dollar, to $1.27.
Worries over Europe stoked demand for Treasurys and lowered the cost of borrowing for the federal government. The Treasury sold 10-year notes at the lowest rate on record Wednesday, 1.90 percent.
The United States depends on Europe to buy about 20 percent of its exports, and concerns about Europe have led analysts to lower their profit estimates for U.S. companies.