NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks fell broadly Thursday after a report from China added to growing signs that the world’s second-largest economy is slowing. The selling spared few companies, even those reporting solid earnings.

"It’s pretty ugly," said Randy Frederick, a managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. "When you’ve got a market that’s near record highs ... people are looking for any excuse to take profits."

In the Standard and Poor’s 500 index, nine of 10 companies dropped.

Stocks fell from the start of trading after an HSBC survey of Chinese manufacturing fell to the lowest point since July and suggested that the country’s factory sector was shrinking. Earlier this week, China reported its slowest annual economic growth since 1999.

The Dow was down as much as 232 points before trimming its loss late in the day. It closed down 175.99 points, or 1.1 percent, at 16,197.35. The S&P 500 lost 16.40 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,828.46.

Fearful investors poured money into U.S. government debt securities, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 2.78 percent from 2.86 percent late Wednesday. That was the lowest since Nov. 29.

The pullback comes after a stellar run for stocks last year. The Dow rose nearly 27 percent and the S&P, nearly 30 percent.

"The market at these levels is a bit skittish," said James Dunigan, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management.