Wall Street fell on Monday, pulling the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index down from a record, weighed down by a slowdown in Chinese exports that fuelled concern about global economic growth.
The Dow Jones industrial average declined 34 points or 0.21%, to 16,419, the S&P 500 lost one point or 0.05%, to 1,877 and the Nasdaq Composite fell two points or 0.04%, to 4,334.
China's exports unexpectedly tumbled 18.1% in February, against expectations for a 6.8% rise, swinging the trade balance into deficit and adding to fears of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
However, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were saved from bigger losses on merger and acquisition announcements and company specific news including on Facebook and Alexion Pharma.
Boeing Co (BA.N) shares plunged 1.3% on another production setback for the company's newest jet, as "hairline cracks" were discovered in the wings of about forty 787 Dreamliners. The weekend disappearance and presumed crash of a Malaysian airliner made by Boeing was another headwind for the stock.
Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX.N) lost 2.5% as signs of a slowing China sent London copper to a more than eight-month low.
Facebook (FB.O) shares hit an intraday record of $72.15 after UBS raised its price target on the online social media giant to $90, from $72. They closed up 3.2%.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN.O) jumped 7.1% after it raised its profit and sales forecasts for the year. The French government agreed to raise reimbursement payments for the company's treatment for two rare blood disorders.
Chiquita Brands (CQB.N) and Irish rival Fyffes (FFY.I), Europe's largest distributor, struck an all-stock merger deal to create the world's biggest banana supplier. Chiquita shares jumped 10.7%.
United Rentals Inc (URI.N) gained 3.8%. The world's largest equipment rental company said it agreed to buy privately-held National Pump, the second-largest specialty pump rental company in North America, for $780 million.
In Asia, shares gained on Tuesday in morning trade as investors weighed data showing China’s credit growth trailed estimates in February and awaited the conclusion of the Bank of Japan’s policy meeting.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.4 percent to 138.11 as of 11:11 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index climbed 0.7% before the central bank finishes a two-day meeting today, at which it’s projected to keep its bond-buying program unchanged.
Taiwan’s Taiex index gained 0.4%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.1%. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.4%. South Korea’s Kospi Index lost 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index swung between gains and losses, while the Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.3%.