Among earnings, Dick's Sporting Goods tumbled after the sporting goods retailer missed quarterly expectations. The company said lower-than-expected sales of outerwear and cold weather accessories offset some positive trends in areas such as athletic footwear and apparel.
Citigroup edged higher after RBS upgraded the bank to "buy" from "neutral."
China's Shanghai Composite declined after data showing industrial production and retail sales in China for the January and February period missed expectations. In addition, inflation rose in February, igniting worries of potential monetary tightening. Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei hit a new four-and-a-half year high, fueled by weakness in the yen.
European shares traded lower, pulling back from four-year highs, dragged by banks on the heels of Italy's credit downgrade from Fitch to BBB-positive last Friday. The downgrade follows a week of political haggling after no party gained sufficient votes in a national election to form a government.
(Read More: Why Italy Could Be the Next 'Bad Boy of Europe')