Wall Street stocks closed a historically bad quarter on a weak note Tuesday, while European and Asian bourses gained following better Chinese economic data.

The Dow dropped almost two percent more to finish at 21,917.16, a loss of more than 23 percent for the quarter, its worst since 1987.

"Although stocks settled down this week following several weeks of wild swings, the key trend indicators continue to be bearish, and the benchmarks might still 'retest' their lows in the coming weeks," warned Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman.

Earlier, European stock markets got a boost with solid Chinese manufacturing data that pointed to signs of revival after much of the economy shuttered due to the coronavirus -- a condition now hammering other economies.

China's Purchasing Managers' Index, a key gauge of factory activity, jumped to 52.0 from a record low 35.7 the month before. Any figure above 50 is considered to point to growth.

"Chinese factory data overnight gave a flicker of hope that the world's second largest economy is firing back up, despite large parts of the world grinding to a halt," said City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta.

The Chinese data initially helped oil prices rebound from 18-year lows struck on Monday as measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak have hit demand.

But European benchmark Brent crude began to fall once again and finished nearly flat, although the main US contract, WTI, mustered a gain.

An ongoing price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia has also put downward pressure on prices.

"Until markets can start to understand how bad the demand shock will be since practically the whole world is on lockdown, most oil rallies will get faded," said analyst Edward Moya at OANDA.

While the number of infections and deaths continues to rise, some observers believe traders are getting used to the new normal, with some suggesting the worst of the stock selloffs are over.

Trillions of dollars pledged to offset the economic impact of the deadly virus have provided a semblance of stability to world markets, which were initially pummelled by the rapid spread of the disease, which has forced swathes of the planet -- and the global economy -- into lockdown.

But others are more skeptical.

"It is becoming obvious that lockdown measures around the world will need to be extended, and that will likely make everyone's GDP decline forecast a little uglier," said OANDA's Moya.

China's manufacturing sector saw surprise growth in March, having been mauled in February as the country went into lockdown to tackle the virus
China's manufacturing sector saw surprise growth in March, having been mauled in February as the country went into lockdown to tackle the virus AFP / STR

"Despite today's stock market resilience, this is still probably a bear market rally," he added.

New York - Dow: DOWN 1.8 percent at 21,917.16 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 1.6 percent at 2,584.59 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 1.0 percent at 7,700.10 (close)

London - FTSE 100: FTSE 100: UP 2.0 percent at 5,671.96 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 1.2 percent at 9,935.85 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 4,396.12 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.8 percent at 2,786.90 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.9 percent at 18,917.01 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.9 percent at 23,603.48 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 2,750.30 (close)

Brent North Sea crude: FLAT at $22.74 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.9 percent at $20.48 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1037 from $1.1048 at 2230 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.63 yen from 107.76

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2420 from $1.2414