Markets in the United States fell for a second session, as weak data on private sector jobs and some disappointing corporate earnings weighed on sentiment.
The ADP private sector employment report revealed hiring in April fell to its lowest level in three years.
The report effectively acts as a precursor to the more detailed government non-farm payrolls data, which is due out on Friday.
A Reuters survey of economists shows 202,000 jobs are expected to have been added to non-farm payrolls in April, after a rise of 215,000 in March.
Analysts are tipping the US unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 5 per cent.
Shares in the travel services firm Priceline slumped 9.5 per cent, after the company’s earnings forecast fell short of expectations.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 99 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 17,651.
The S&P 500 Index lost 0.6 per cent to close at 2,051 and the Nasdaq ended 0.8 per cent lower at 4,725.
Europe’s major markets also lost ground; in London the FTSE 100 Index shed 1.2 per cent to 6,112.
Locally, shares are set to open lower and, at 7:15am (AEST), the ASX SPI 200 was down 0.2 per cent to 5,237.
At the same time, the Australian dollar was buying 74.58 US cents.
On the cross-rates, it was worth 64.89 euro cents, 51.41 British pence, 79.74 Japanese yen and $NZ1.083.
West Texas crude oil was higher at $US43.72 a barrel, the price of a barrel of Tapis had fallen to $US45.57 and spot gold had edged down to $US1,279.11 an ounce.
IG market analyst Angus Nicholson said oil was the only real commodity bright spot last night.
“Apart from oil, there was little good news in the commodity space as iron ore lost 5.2 per cent as it held on just above the $US60 level at $US60.1 and copper lost 1.4 per cent,” he wrote in a note.
“No doubt these developments helped the Aussie dollar lose another 0.4 per cent overnight.”