Wall Street closes lower

Soft Chinese, EU data and tech heavyweights drag US markets lower.

US shares closed lower as the tech selloff on the Nasdaq continued and data in Europe and China disappointed.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 26.01 points, or 0.16%, to 16,276.69.

The broad-based S&P 500 lost 8.96 points, or 0.48%, to 1,857.44, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 50.40 points, or 1.18%, to 4,226.38.

It is the second successive trading day that the Nasdaq has slipped 1% or more.

The weakness on the tech-heavy index was largely driven by Facebook (down 4.7%), Tesla (-3.8%), Netflix (-6.7%), Twitter (-4.2%) and Google (-2.1%). Apple bucked the trend among major contributors to the index by rising 1.1%.

Among the issues on the agenda for investors were weaker-than-expected manufacturing data out of the eurozone and China and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

In late morning trade it appeared as if investors were happy to use soft data in China and Europe to engage in profit taking, though markets began bouncing off lows around midday in the US.

A fresh fall in the HSBC/Markit China flash PMI -- to its lowest level since July 2013 -- was largely a blow to confidence, though it has spurred predictions Beijing will soon deliver more stimulus to the economy. These expectations helped push the Australian dollar to its highest level of 2014 overnight.

In US economic news, an early reading showed US factory expansion decelerated slightly in March, but managed to hold on to last month's sharp pickup in orders and output.

In Europe, PMI data also fell short of expectations, raising doubts about the strength of the economic recovery in the region. The fall was, however, a minor one, with the index remaining at a level indicating an expanding economy.

In political news, the standoff between Russia and the West continued as US President Barack Obama pushed allies to enforce further sanctions. Meanwhile, Ukraine ordered its military to exit their posts in the contested region of Crimea.

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