U.S. stocks ended near the lows of the day on Tuesday as energy shares tumbled alongside the price of oil and soft Chinese trade data rekindled fears that the global economy is weaker than anticipated.
U.S. crude futures CLc1 fell more than 4 percent in post-settlement trading, in their largest daily decline since bottoming so far for the year on Feb. 11. Since that low, the U.S. barrel of crude rose as much as 45.5 percent.
Despite the rebound in crude prices, oversupply and expectations of weak demand from China have weighed on investor sentiment. The price of oil and equity indexes have been strongly correlated this year.
"While I'd love to see oil break out, I don't think it will happen yet," said Uri Landesman, president at Platinum Partners in New York.
Goldman Sachs analysts said the recent rally in oil was premature as prices would need to remain lower for longer to help rebalance the market later in the year.
Shares of Dow components Exxon (XOM.N) and Chevron (CVX.N) fell more than 2 percent. The S&P 500 energy index .SPNY dropped 4.1 percent.
China's February trade performance was far worse than economists had expected, with exports tumbling the most in more than six years. The 16th-straight monthly decline in imports weighed on stocks in the basic materials sector .SPLRCM, which was down 2 percent.
Landesman said the S&P 500 is still in a downward trend and will likely stall near the 2,000 level, heading toward support near 1,825 before testing the record set last May above 2,100. The index on Monday closed above 2,000 for the first time since Jan. 5.
"It will be trading in that channel based on slow global (economic) growth prospects," Landesman said.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 109.85 points, or 0.64 percent, to 16,964.1, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 22.5 points, or 1.12 percent, to 1,979.26 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 59.43 points, or 1.26 percent, to 4,648.83.
The largest percentage decliner on the Nasdaq 100 was Micron (MU.O), down 7.9 percent to $10.66.
Shake Shack (SHAK.N) tumbled 11.8 percent, falling to $37.23 after the burger chain issued disappointing results and forecast.
Shares of Urban Outfitters (URBN.O) were up 16.1 percent at $32.69, after better-than-expected sales for its Free People brand.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a ratio of 3.2-to-1 and on the Nasdaq a 3.5-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 18 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq recorded 36 new highs and 37 new lows.
About 8.5 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, below the 8.77 billion average over the last 20 sessions.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Nick Zieminski)