Stocks declined on the first trading day of the month and quarter as investors were disappointed by a weaker-than-expected ISM manufacturing report, but an upbeat news on construction spending helped put a limit on losses.
If the S&P 500 finishes in the red, it would be the first time since the fourth quarter of 2011 that the index has been down on the first trading day of a quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined, dragged by Intel and Alcoa.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also slipped. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, jumped above 13.