Stocks fell amid new signs of weakness in Europe's economy. Poor earnings news from Bank of America and an apparent drop in demand for Apple's iPod and iPhone contributed to the selling.
Banking, tech and energy stocks led the way lower.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 138 points to 14,618 Wednesday, or 0.9 per cent.
The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 22 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 1,552.
The Nasdaq composite fell 60 points, or 1.8 per cent, to 3,204. Apple, the biggest component in the index, slumped nearly 6 per cent.
Three stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was high, 4.2 billion shares.