NEW YORK, New York - Leading U.S. technology stocks plummeted between 2 percent and four percent at varying times on Tuesday, pushing the Nasdaq Composite sharply lower.
The main target of sellers was the so-called FAANG group of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google-parent Alphabet.
"When you're at all-time highs and the market pulls back, the ones that tend to lead to the downside are often the high-beta stocks such as technology," Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas told Reuters Thomson Tuesday.
"When we have pauses or pullbacks people tend to move out of growth stocks into more defensive names."
The Nasdaq did however rec over in late trading, clawing back some of its more than 300-points deficit at one stage.
The benchmark index ended the day down 261.62 points or 1.88 percent at 13,633.50.
The Standard and Poor's 500 let go 27.90 points or 0.67 percent to 4,164.76.
The Dow Jones industrials managed a small gain despite the turmoil, adding 20.26 points or 0.06 percent to 34,133.49.
On foreign exchange markets, the U.S. dollar edged higher against most currencies. The euro, after touching a low of 1.1999, recovered to finish the New York trading session around 1.2015. The British pound slid to 1.3889. The Japanese yen firmed a tad to 109.28, as did the Swiss franc to 0.9134.
The Canadian dollar was unchanged at 1.23 05. The Australian dollar eased to 0.7710. The New Zealand dollar fell to 0.7143.
On European and UK markets, stocks were also on the nose, particularly in Germany where the benchmark DAX index plunged 379.99 points, or 2.49 percent, to close at 14,856.48 points.
All DAX 30 shares lost in the day. Semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies lost the most among the blue chips, down by 5.90 percent, followed by pharmaceutical company Merck and housing association Vonovia, which lost 5.19 percent and 4.78 percent respectively, Xinhua reported.
Multinational software corporation SAP was the most traded share of the day, with a turnover of 392.00 million euros (471.22 million U.S. dollars).
China's Haier, a leading global household appliances manufacturer listed in Frankfurt in 2018, lost 5.43 percent to close at 1.715 euros per share, the Xinhua report said.
In London, the FTSE 100 dropped 46.64 points or 0.67 percent to 6,923.17.
The Paris-based CAC 40 shed 56.15 points or 0.89 percent to 6,251.75.
On Asian markets, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 finished down 241.37 points or 0.83 percent at 28,812.63.
China's Shanghai Composite dropped 28.04 points or 0.81 percent to 3,446.86.
The Australian All Ordinaries, going against the trend, added 36.70 points or 0.50 percent to 7,323.50.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng rose 199.60 points or 0.70 percent to 28,557.14.