* U.S. manufacturing expands, but at slower-than-expected pace
* Chinese factory activity shows improvement
* Euro rebounds after reading of U.S. manufacturing data
* Most European markets closed for Easter Monday
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters) - U.S. equities traded lower and oil prices were mixed on Monday after surveys showed U.S. and Chinese manufacturing in March expanded less than economists had expected.
Major European markets were closed for Easter Monday while several exchanges were shut in Asia, tamping down trading activity.
The declines in U.S. stocks came after the S&P 500 closed at a record high on Thursday. The S&P 500 rose 10 percent in the first three months of the year, its strongest quarter in a year. The Dow climbed 11.3 percent and the Nasdaq gained 8.2 percent during the period.
The pace of expansion in the U.S. manufacturing sector unexpectedly slowed last month, the Institute for Supply Management said. ISM said its index of national factory activity fell to 51.3 from 54.2 in February. The reading was shy of expectations of 54.2, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
China’s official purchasing managers index for March came in at 50.9, the highest in 11 months, although a Reuters poll showed economists had expected a rise to 52.0 from February’s five-month low of 50.1.
U.S. Treasuries rebounded after the ISM report on U.S. manufacturing, gold prices traded near break-even and the euro extended gains versus the U.S. dollar.
Early gains in bullion faded after the ISM report suggested the pace of expansion in U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly slowed and investors waited for the Labor Department’s snapshot of the U.S. job market on Friday.
Economists forecast U.S. nonfarm payrolls to increase 200,000 in March after February’s impressive 236,000 gain. .
“I‘m not expecting much to happen in markets before the payroll report, but with things that quiet, we could be more vulnerable to any surprise external news,” said Dan Veru, chief investment officer at Palisade Capital Management LLC in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 34.55 points, or 0.24 percent, at 14,543.99. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 8.18 points, or 0.52 percent, at 1,561.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 23.87 points, or 0.73 percent, at 3,243.65.
MSCI’s all-country world equity index fell 0.44 percent to 358.48.
New orders rose sharply in China, suggesting the underlying economic recovery is strong enough to weather any risks from patchy export performance.
In oil markets, Brent crude fell after the Chinese manufacturing data and stayed down after release of the U.S. survey on American factory activity but later rebounded.
“China’s still growing, and that continues to be an underlying support factor long term for the market. Whether they are at 6 percent or 7 percent, they are growing,” said Carl Larry, president of Houston-based Oil Outlooks and Opinion, about Chinese manufacturing.
Brent for May delivery was up 33 cents at $110.35 a barrel, while U.S. light sweet crude oil fell 76 cents to $96.47 a barrel.
The euro was up 0.37 percent at $1.2860.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 4/32 in price to yield 1.8366 percent.