The U.S. stock market closed lower on Wednesday as poor economic data raised concerns about global economic slowdown.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 27.02 points, or 0.21 percent, to close at 12,938.67. The S&P 500 declined 4.55 points, or 0.33 percent, to finish at 1,357.66. The Nasdaq dropped 15.40 points, or 0.52 percent, to end at 2,933.17.
Before Wednesday's open, data showed that China's manufacturing sector contracted for the fourth month in a row in February. The purchasing managers index rose to a four-month-high at 49.7 in February from 48.8 in January. However, the figure was still in the contraction territory, raising concerns about a possible slowdown in China's economic growth.
Rating agency Fitch on Wednesday cut its rating for Greek sovereign debt to "C" from "CCC", saying a default is "highly likely in the near term". The rating agency's downgrade comes after the debt-ridden country secured a second bailout earlier this week.
Adding to the concerns, business activities contracted unexpectedly in eurozone as the preliminary composite purchasing managers index for the area fell to 49.7 in February from 50.4 last month. A reading of less than 50 suggests a contraction.
Weak economic data also weighed on the market and raised risk- aversion appetite on Wednesday. The stocks snapped a 3-day rally on Wednesday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average was just shy of 13,000 on previous trading session.
However, economic data from the U.S. provided some support to the market. The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales jumped 4.3 percent in January, hitting a one and a half year high, which suggested that the housing market in the U.S. continued to recover.
Meanwhile, weekly mortgage applications declined last week as loan refinancing demand slipped, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
On earnings front, the tech giant Dell disappointed investors as the company's per share earnings missed expectations by a penny.
Outside the U.S., the minutes of the Bank of England's latest monetary policy meeting showed that some members suggested to expand the central bank's bond purchasing program by 75 billion pound, however, a majority of the members still backed the current 50 billion pound increase. The news raised investors' expectations of further monetary easing policies by the central bank and pressured the British pound.
On other markets, the gold touched 3-month high as investors seek safe-haven. The oil prices inched up as supplies worries caused by continuing Iran tension offset negative economic data in Europe and China.