The stock market got off to a slow start in April, edging lower after the Standard & Poor's 500 index eclipsed its all-time high last week.
The main catalyst was a slowdown in U.S. manufacturing growth last month. Stocks started falling shortly after the report came out at 10 a.m. and stayed lower the rest of the day.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed 5.69 points lower at 14,572.85. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 0.45 percent to 1,562.17. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.87 percent to 3,239.17.
Investors have raised their expectations for the U.S. economy as the market has climbed this year, said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade. The Dow is up 11.2 percent in 2013, the S&P is up 9.5 percent.
"The numbers have to be outstanding in order to drive the market higher," Kinahan said. "It's a different mindset when we're at these levels."
The S&P 500 closed the first quarter at an all-time high of 1,569.19, surpassing its previous record close of 1,565.15 set on Oct. 9, 2007. The index has recaptured all of its losses from the financial crisis and the Great Recession. The Dow broke through its previous all-time high March 5.