Stocks Thrashed as Corporate Heavyweights Shake Wall Street's Confidence

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The markets sustained heavy selling on Wednesday after worrisome headlines from several big-name companies sent traders dashing out of equities, and many varieties of commodity futures.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 138 points, or 0.94%, to 14619, the S&P 500 dipped 22.6 points, or 1.4%, to 1552 and the Nasdaq Composite slid 60 points, or 1.8%, to 3205.

It's been a volatile week for Wall Street. The markets took their worst losses of the year on Monday, rallied on Tuesday, and sentiment has turned grim again on Wednesday.

Every major sector was in the red, led by economically-sensitive segments like financials, industrials, materials energy and technology. Corporate earnings and other news took the spotlight on the day, along with worrisome headlines out of Europe.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) posted first-quarter profits of 20 cents a share, missing estimates by two cents. Adjusted revenues of $23.7 billion topped expectations of $23.4 billion. Shares of the second-biggest U.S. bank by assets dipped nearly 5% on the day, leading the Dow lower.

Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) revealed adjusted first-quarter earnings of 38 cents a share, easily beating estimates of 24 cents. Sales, excluding traffic acquisition costs, came in at $1.07 billion, slightly shy of forecasts of $1.1 billion. Shares fell sharply.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) revealed first-quarter profits of 40 cents a share, missing estimates by a penny. Revenues of $12.6 billion came in essentially inline with expectations. The chipmaker said it sees revenues of $12.9 billion plus or minus $500 million for the second quarter.

Also in corporate news, DigiTimes, a technology industry newspaper based in Taiwan, reported citing unnamed supply-chain sources that sales of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad Mini are expected to fall 20% to 30% in the second quarter. Shares of the technology giant tumbled  5.4%, dragging the tech-heavy Nasdaq down with it.

Meanwhile, Indexes across Europe tumbled on the day. In particular, bourses in core eurozone countries came under intense pressure: The German DAX and French CAC 40 both fell by more than 1.5%. Traders cited unconfirmed rumors about a potential ratings action on German debt and continued sluggishness across the eurozone. Still, Germany sold ten-year debt at its lowest yield on record in a sign traders are still bidding up Europe's benchmark safe-haven bonds.

"The DAX is breaking technical levels and growth in Europe is nonexistent," Michael Block, chief equities strategist at Phoenix Partners Group, wrote in an email to FOX Business. Block said he recommends buying U.S.-centric names amid the weakness in Europe, with a focus on real estate, health care and consumer cyclicals.

The U.S. economy expanded at a ‘modest’ or ‘moderate’ pace in most of the Federal Reserve’s 12 districts, according to the anecdotal Beige Book report. Meanwhile, the conditions in the still-struggling labor market remained broadly unchanged. The report has been especially closely watched as the central bank decides when to begin tapering its vast quantitative easing program.

Many commodities were sharply lower. The benchmark U.S. crude oil contract slid $1.50, or 1.7%, to $87.26 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline fell 0.97% to $2.755 a barrel. Gold slid $12.90, or 0.9%, to $1,375 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 sold off by 1.4% to 2574, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.69% to 6261 and the German DAX plummeted 1.6% to 7551.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 1.2% to 13383 and the Chinese Hang Seng fell 0.47% to 21570.