Stocks opened lower on Wall Street Wednesday, following European shares lower after a rally there on a positive response to a European Central Bank debt offering sputtered out.
Markets in Germany, France and London had risen after the ECB loaned a record amount to the continent's banks in an effort to bolster Europe's stressed financial system, but they soon began showing losses of as much as 0.6 percent.
On Tuesday, encouraging signs out of Europe and a surprisingly strong report on the U.S. housing market drove the Dow up more than 300 points. It was the best day for stocks this month.
Disappointing earnings late Tuesday from Oracle Corp. added to investor angst.
In Europe, the initial optimism over the ECB's loan results gave way to the reality that the credit infusion for the banks only treats one symptom of the debt crisis. It does not remove the reasons banks remain wary of lending to each other, especially their thin levels of capital reserves against potential losses. And it doesn't cut the large levels of debt carried by governments.
Asian markets rose earlier, as positive signs from key Western export markets helped shore up sentiment that was jolted by the death of North Korea leader Kim Jong Il and fears of a possible power struggle in a country pursuing nuclear weapons.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.6 percent to 18,368.6 while China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended down 1.1 percent at 2,181.15.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.