Global gloom sends shares south
Stocks on Wall Street slid as investors re-evaluated the market's recent rally amid talk of slowing global economic growth.
Although shares gained ground late in the seession, the Dow Jones Industrial Average remained in the red at close (10am NZ time)
It finished down 16.12 points, or 0.1%, to 12,961.45. The S&P 500 index lost 0.4% to 1364.30 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.9% to 2950.48.
Seven of the S&P's 10 sectors were lower, with technology stocks the worst performers.
The market took its cues from downbeat economic news out of China and Europe.
Other markets: Europe, Asia down
In China, Premier Wen Jiabao said the 2012 target for economic growth would be 7.5%, down from the 8% target that had been in place for eight years.
In Europe, markets were broadly lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 down 0.6% to 265.56.after the pan-European composite PMI fell to 49.3, below an earlier estimate and forecasts of 49.7. Readings below 50 indicate contraction.
The UK's FTSE 100 index was off 0.6% at 5874.82, France’s CAC-40 index declined 0.4% to 3487.54 and the German DAX index fell 0.8% to 6866.46.
In Asia, resource and technology shares led the retreat after China's growth forecast. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 1.4%, to 21,265.31, and China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.6% to 2445 and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average dropped 0.8%, to 9698.59.
India’s Sensex fell 1.6% to 17,362.87, its lowest close since February 1. Taiwan's Taiex gave up 1.4% to 8004.74, Korea's Kospi declined 0.9% to 2016.06 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index edged down 0.2% to 4263.00.
Commodities: Oil steady, gold down
Crude futures ended near flat as investors weighed a meeting between the leaders of the US and Israel to discuss Iran and lower Chinese growth.
Light, sweet crude for April delivery settled 2USc higher at $US106.72 a barrel in New York after wavering between gains and losses for most of the session.
Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange was 39USc higher at $US123.71 a barrel.
Gold futures retreated, extending a selloff started in the previous session and following weekly losses of 3.7%.
Gold for April delivery declined $US5.90, or 0.3%, to settle at $US1703.90 an ounce in New York.
Currencies: Euro gains on US dollar
The euro turned up against the US dollar after three days of declines.
The euro was at $US1.3221 compared with $US1.32 late on Friday. The dollar traded at ¥81.36 compared with ¥81.81, while the euro was at ¥107.56 compared with ¥107.96.
The pound bought $US1.5862 compared with $US1.5833, and the dollar traded at 0.9120 Swiss franc from 0.9140 franc.