NEW YORK – Wall Street tumbled on Friday after a slew of big company earnings failed to meet heightened expectations, while bank shares slid, led by Goldman Sachs (GS.N) after it was charged with fraud by the U.S. securities market regulator.
Goldman's stock fell 15.6 percent to a session low at $155.57 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleged fraud in the bank's structuring and marketing of a debt product tied to subprime mortgages, which cost investors more than $1 billion.
Defaults on subprime mortgages and the unraveling of related derivatives and debt played a major role in the credit crunch leading to a meltdown on Wall Street and the worst U.S. recession since the 1930s.
"I don't think it's going to impact the recovery and the improvement in the financial system, but it could be the beginning of a period of a regulatory cloud over Goldman and perhaps the entire investment banking industry," said Hank Smith, chief investment officer of Haverford Trust Co in Philadelphia.
The market's reaction to earnings surprised some after bellwethers Google Inc (GOOG.O), Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) and General Electric Co (GE.N) reported results that on the surface appeared strong. But weaker corporate fundamentals and concerns about the rapid rally over recent weeks prompted investors to sell on that news.
Results "point to an economy where earnings are good, but you're not seeing the type of activity that would suggest there's going to be a momentum-building kind of thing," said Bernie McGinn, president of McGinn Investment Management in Alexandria, Virginia.
The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) dropped 102.86 points, or 0.92 percent, to 11,041.71, after earlier falling 1.2 percent to a session low at 11,010.12. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) fell 18.15 points, or 1.50 percent, to 1,193.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) slid 29.58 points, or 1.18 percent, to 2,486.11.
Google's shares fell 6.1 percent to $559.13 after the Internet giant posted a 23 percent jump in quarterly revenue, but some investors were looking for even better results.
Bank of America Corp shares lost 5.5 percent to $18.40, hurt by the Goldman news and after the parent of the largest U.S. bank by assets reported higher-than-expected earnings, but said loan demand remained low.
Goldman's stock was down 12.1 percent at $162.05 in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The KBW Bank index (.BKX) dropped 4.4 percent.
General Electric Co (GE.N) shed 3.1 percent to $18.89 after quarterly revenues came in lowered than expected and new equipment orders were down, even as profit was higher than estimates.
On the economic front, the Reuters/University of Michigan survey showed consumer sentiment took a surprising negative turn in early April due to a persistently grim outlook on income and jobs.