Wall Street fell on Wednesday, led by technology and commodity companies, as geopolitical concerns rose after the US and the European Union agreed to work together on tougher sanctions on Russia.
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 99 points, or 0.60%, to end at 16,269. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 13 points, or 0.70%, to finish at 1,853. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 61 points, or 1.43%, to close at 4,174.
Shares were mostly positive in the morning after US economic data pointed to improving conditions. Orders for durable goods rose more than expected in February, ending two straight months of declines. But the major indexes reversed course in the afternoon as technology stocks turned sharply lower.
The US and the European Union agreed to work together to prepare possible tougher economic sanctions, possibly including the energy sector, in response to Russia's behaviour in Ukraine.
In the technology sector, Facebook (FB.O) ended down 6.9% after the social networking company said it would acquire two-year-old Oculus VR Inc, a maker of virtual-reality glasses for gaming, for $2 billion.
A sharp drop in the stock of King Digital Entertainment Plc (KING.N), the maker of the wildly popular "Candy Crush Saga" game, also soured investor sentiment. King's stock fell 15.6% in its trading debut yesterday.
Among materials stocks, Newmont Mining Corp (NEM.N) shares lost 3.6% and ranked as the biggest decliner in the S&P materials sector index. Dow Chemical Co (DOW.N) shares dropped 2.4%.
On the positive side, DirectTV shares (DTV.O) jumped 5.7% and Dish Network Corp (DISH.O) shares surged 6.3%.
Citigroup (C.N) shares fell more than 5% in extended-hours trading after the US Federal Reserve objected to plans by Citigroup and four other banks to return capital to shareholders.
In Asia, stocks declined on Thursday amid concern the Ukraine situation may escalate after US President Barack Obama said the international order is being tested by Russian aggression.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.6% to 135 as of 11:47 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index slid 1.4% as the yen extended yesterday’s gain against the dollar.
South Korea’s Kospi index added 0.1%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.8%, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.2%. Taiwan’s Taiex Index fell 0.1% and Singapore’s Straits Times Index climbed 0.5%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.5%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.9%.