Results and outlooks from consumer and technology titans Apple and IBM sent U.S. stock indexes lower on Tuesday as disappointed investors worried about the strength of corporate earnings.
A move by China to raise its benchmark one-year lending and deposit rate by 25 basis points, effective Wednesday, also weighed on sentiment. Any signal that China is trying to cool its economy, the engine of global growth, hampers equities.
"Largely a couple of favorite stocks plus anything related to China has been a good driver of the (recent) rally," said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at North Star Investment Management Corp in Chicago. "With all that going the wrong way today, you are seeing a pullback."
The basic materials sector (.GSPM), closely linked to consumption in China, was the worst performer in the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 index is up 11.4 percent since September 1, and Apple Inc shares have risen almost 28 percent since then.
"The rally has shown a lot of resilience, and this is an interesting test to people's conviction," Kuby said.
The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) was down 100.39 points, or 0.90 percent, at 11,043.30. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) was down 10.76 points, or 0.91 percent, at 1,173.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) was down 26.46 points, or 1.07 percent, at 2,454.20.
Apple's (AAPL.O) shares, which hit a lifetime high on Monday but were at their most overbought levels since April according to technical measures, fell more than 2.8 percent to $309 and tripped up the Nasdaq.
International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) said it won fewer technology services deals than expected in the third quarter, sending its shares 3 percent lower to $138.59, although it announced stronger profits and raised its full-year outlook.
Citigroup Inc (C.N) dropped 1.2 percent to $4.12 after the U.S. Treasury Department said it launched a sale of 1.5 billion of its Citi shares under a prearranged trading plan.
Ray Ozzie, the Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) executive who took over the role of chief software architect from Bill Gates, is to step down, following a tenure in which the Windows-maker lost ground to Google and Apple.
Microsoft shares were down 2.8 percent at $25.10.
U.S. housing starts unexpectedly rose in September to a five-month high, but permits for future home construction fell, according to a government report.