(Updates to afternoon)
* Auto sales fall short of expectations
* Indexes off: Dow 0.71 pct, S&P 0.77 pct, Nasdaq 0.94 pct
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, March 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday after a weak auto sales report pulled the Dow and S&P back from their latest records and the Nasdaq dipped below 5,000 the day after scaling the milestone level for the first time in 15 years.
Investors exercised caution after a strong run for major indexes in February and ahead of a slew of economic data later this week, culminating with the monthly payrolls report.
For the second year in a row, tough winter weather slowed U.S. vehicle sales in February, with several major automakers missing analysts’ projections and dampening bullish expectations.
“The air gets a little thin up at new highs and you need a driver to keep it going, and one of the things we are not getting as a driver today is solid auto sales,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
U.S.-listed Fiat Chrysler shares fell 3.7 percent to $15.24 while Ford Motor declined 2.8 percent to $16.10. General Motors managed dropped 0.23 percent to $37.51.
“There was a lack of economic numbers to trade on,” said Stephen Carl, principal and head of U.S. equity trading, The Williams Capital Group LP, in New York. “After an up market yesterday we’re losing ground today.”
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 130.37 points, or 0.71 percent, to 18,158.26, the S&P 500 lost 16.29 points, or 0.77 percent, to 2,101.1 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 47.12 points, or 0.94 percent, to 4,960.97.
The Nasdaq decline was led by Microsoft Corp while Visa Inc weighed most on the Dow. Seagate Technology and Micron Technology were the worst performers in the S&P 500.
Mylan Inc fell 4.5 percent to $55.26 after the generic drug maker gave its 2015 outlook and said it may look for another acquisition after just completing a purchase of some of some overseas Abbott Laboratories’ businesses last week.
MannKind Corp tumbled 9.2 percent to $6.03 after Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the drugmaker to “sell” from “neutral” and slashed its price target to $3 from $6 per share.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,957 to 1,025, for a 1.91-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,768 issues fell and 874 advanced, for a 2.02-to-1 ratio .
The S&P 500 was posting 8 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 59 new highs and 27 new lows. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)