Bloomberg News

U.S. stocks fell Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average retreating from a record, amid concern that the Federal Reserve could begin to taper its debt-buying program as the economy continues to improve.

Nine out of 10 groups in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined, as consumer-staple, utility and health-care stocks fell the most. Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble Co. slumped more than 2.2 percent, pacing losses among the biggest U.S. companies. Lennar Corp. and PulteGroup Inc. fell at least 3.3 percent as investors sold shares of home builders.

The S&P 500 dropped 0.7 percent to 1,648.36 in New York. The Dow retreated 106.59 points, or 0.7 percent, to 15,302.80.

“When yields do move higher, you’ll see some of those more defensive sectors take a hit,” said Peter Jankovskis, who helps oversee $3.5 billion as co-chief investment officer of Lisle, Ill.-based Oakbrook Investments LLC. “The big question is how sustainable is the growth that we’re having now.”

While yield-seeking investors drove so-called defensive stocks to among the biggest gains in the S&P 500 in the first quarter, they’ve been lagging other industries since then, with utilities, phone companies and consumer-staple companies the worst performers.

Utilities, which yield 4.1 percent, fell for the fifth straight day.