Stocks fell on Monday as political turmoil in Europe cast doubts on the euro zone's ability to push through measures to end its debt crisis and as Wal-Mart sank following a report it stymied a bribery probe.
The Dutch prime minister tendered his government's resignation on Monday after Dutch officials failed to agree on budget cuts. Adding to the uncertainty was a Sunday vote in France that threw the presidential race wide open.
The renewed worries came as the euro zone's business slump deepened at a far faster pace than expected in April. The Markit PMI fell to a five-month low, confounding forecasts for a rise.
Europe's debt crisis has been a major headwind for U.S. equities as investors worried it could hurt corporate profits. Bank shares were hit by the concern, including Morgan Stanley
It's becoming clear the euro zone is in a recession, and that brings a lot of concerns. To really get out of the debt problem, you need growth, and we haven't gotten to that step yet, said Hank Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Trust Co. in Philadelphia.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc
The sell-off was broad with almost 3 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange falling for each one that rose, and the economically sensitive S&P materials sector <.GSPM> was among the worst performing areas, down 1.4 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 102.09 points, or 0.78 percent, at 12,927.17. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 11.59 points, or 0.84 percent, at 1,366.94. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 30.00 points, or 1.00 percent, at 2,970.45.
After the bell, shares of Netflix Inc
The S&P 500 is still up 8.7 percent for the year, some way off its year-to-date gain of 12.8 percent reached earlier this month.
Materials shares followed a fall in commodity prices as copper prices dropped 1.6 percent. Shares in Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold Inc
Shares of Apple Inc
The majority of S&P 500 results for the first quarter have been positive so far, however, with 79 percent of companies beating Wall Street's earnings expectations.
About 6.56 billion shares changed hands on the NYSE, the Nasdaq and NYSE Amex, just shy of the 6.77 billion daily average so far this year.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)