Stocks fell in a volatile session on Tuesday as comments from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke about helping the struggling economy vied with fears of contagion from Europe's debt crisis.

In addition, weakness in Apple Inc reversed earlier strength in the Nasdaq.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 146.86 points, or 1.38 percent, to 10,508.44. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 10.12 points, or 0.92 percent, to 1,089.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 9.27 points, or 0.40 percent, to 2,326.56.