Stocks fell about 1 percent on Wednesday as concerns about Japan's nuclear crisis escalated.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 98.85 points, or 0.83 percent, at 11,756.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 8.95 points, or 0.70 percent, at 1,272.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> took off 15.74 points, or 0.59 percent, at 2,651.59.

All three indexes were briefly down more than 1 percent.

Nikkei dollar-denominated futures were down 4 percent, while the IShares MSCI Japan Index Fund slid 3.1 percent at $9.72.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch)