- U.S. stocks opened lower on Wednesday, as concerns over the economic outlook for China and ongoing tensions in Ukraine continued to dampen market sentiment.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.38%, the S&P 500 retreated 0.48%, while the Nasdaq Composite index declined 0.43%.

Investors remained cautious amid worries over the outlook for China’s economy after data over the weekend showed that exports dropped 18.1% in February and inflation slowed.

Markets were also eyeing the standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine. Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was to travel to the U.S. to meet President Barack Obama on Wednesday, as diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis continued.

In the auto sector, Tesla Motors Inc. fell 0.27% after U.S. Governor Chris Christie’s administration blocked the company from direct auto sales. The electric-car maker said the move could shutter its only two stores in New Jersey.

Facebook shares dropped 0.43% after the headquarters of the social media giant in Northern California were evacuated late Tuesday, as a suspected threat to the company caused it to contact police.

The Walt Disney Company added to losses, down 0.41% amid reports it has been talking to Maker Studios about an acquisition that would value the YouTube network at $500 million or more.

Elsewhere, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. declined 0.44% as its BNSF Railway Co. was said to be leading an effort by U.S. railroads to add hundreds of locomotives to ease a cargo jam spurred by bad weather and surging crude shipments.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were sharply lower. The EURO STOXX 50 lost 1.18%, France’s CAC 40 tumbled 1.47%, Germany''s DAX retreated 1.44%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 dropped 1.08%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index tumbled 1.65%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index plunged 2.59%.

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