Updated from 8:56 a.m. EST

Stocks in New York sagged at the open Wednesday, as traders eyed the prospect of a bailout for the automakers and began digesting an array of economic reports.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was down 173 points at 8246, and the

S&P 500

was losing 18 points to 830. The

Nasdaq

dropped 34 points to 1416.

During Tuesday's trading session, the major averages finished with gains in a rebound from a broad selloff on Monday. Tuesday's rally was bolstered somewhat when

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

narrowed its earnings forecast but said it would maintain its dividend.

Automakers

Ford

(F) - Get Report

and

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

also presented business plans to Congress in hopes of garnering a federal bailout.

Toyota

(TM) - Get Report

, meanwhile, announced it would cut production in December and reduce managers' winter bonuses as it copes with the economic downturn.

Ahead of Wednesday's trading, numerous companies announced changes in their business models and financial policies as the economic environment shifted. Among financial firms,

The Wall Street Journal

reported that

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

was thinking about starting an Internet banking business.

Separately,

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

may reduce its headcount by 30,000 as it merges with

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

, according to a report by

CNBC

.

Elsewhere, mining company

Freeport-McMoRan

(FCX) - Get Report

said it was suspending its dividend on declines in copper and molybdenum prices.

BlackBerry maker

Research In Motion

(RIMM)

cut its third-quarter revenue and earnings-per-share forecasts, saying a stronger dollar and weaker U.S. economy would hurt its results.

On the merger front,

Electricite de France

said it was planning to issue a bid of $4.5 billion for U.S. power company

Constellation Energy

(CEG)

.

As for economic data, November employment figures from Automatic Data Processing showed that 250,000 jobs had been lost that month, more than the 205,000 anticipated by economists. The October unemployment figure was revised to 179,000 from 157,000.

Revised third-quarter productivity numbers from the Department of Labor showed a 1.3% reading, above consensus estimates of 0.9% and up from 1.1% in the second quarter.

Also on the docket is a November non-manufacturing report from the Institute for Supply Management and the

Fed's

so-called beige book of anecdotal economic reports.

Shifting to commodities, crude oil was falling 2 cents to $46.94 a barrel. Gold was losing $14.10 to $769.20 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were falling in price. The 10-year note was down 10/32 to yield 2.71%, and the 30-year was losing 4/32 to yield 3.18%. The dollar was rising vs. the euro and pound but falling against the yen.

European exchanges, including the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt, were trading lower. Asian markets, such as Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng, finished on the upside.