U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday, dropping in a broad decline amid renewed concerns about debt talks with Greece and as crude oil fell, weighing on energy shares.
Eurozone ministers agreed that technical talks between finance experts from Athens and its international creditors would start on Wednesday, with the aim of unlocking further funding. However, the ministers warned Greece that it had "no time to lose."
Greece's debt issues have been on the back burner of late for U.S. investors, who continue to watch the region with caution. While the United States has little direct exposure to the country, there are concerns that extended uncertainty could spread throughout the euro zone.
"There's a lot of rhetoric out there, some of which feels like name-calling, all of which makes the situation read as worse than it used to be," said Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at the ConvergEx Group in New York.
In China, the pace of inflation unexpectedly picked up in February while producer prices continued to slide, underscoring the intense pressure on profit margins at Chinese companies and adding urgency to policymakers' efforts to find new ways to support growth.
The day's losses were broad, with all 10 primary S&P 50 sectors lower. Despite that, major indexes were less than 3% away from record levels, and the S&P 500 appeared to find support at its 50-day moving average of 2,061.61.
"Valuations are reasonable now. They're not low anymore," Colas said. "We're at a level where we'll still make new highs, but there will be a lot more volatility on the path higher."
Qualcomm Inc rose 1.5% to $73.80 a day after the chipmaker said it would buy back up to $15 billion of shares and raise its quarterly dividend.
Urban Outfitters Inc late Monday reported earnings that beat expectations, lifted by an increase in same-store sales. Shares rose 8.5% to $42.88.
On the downside, Barnes & Noble fell 1.6% to $24.25 after the company reported a drop in third-quarter sales.
Crude oil fell 1.3% in its third daily decline in the past four sessions. ConocoPhillips fell 0.9% to $61.43 whileOccidental Petroleum was off 0.9% to $74.12.
At 9:48 a.m., the Dow Jones industrial average fell 188.32 points, or 1.05%, to 17,807.4, the S&P 500 lost 21.01 points, or 1.01%, to 2,058.42 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 53.64 points, or 1.09%, to 4,888.80.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,286 to 482, for a 4.74-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,929 issues fell and 405 advanced for a 4.76-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 was posting 3 new 52-week highs and 15 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 13 new highs and 43 new lows.