U.S. stocks fell to April lows on Friday after General Electric Co. shook investors with its lower-than-expected earnings results which increased concerns that the credit crunch has moved into all sectors.
General Electric, the world's third-biggest company by market value, took its biggest dive in 20 years after earnings dropped 12 percent due to declines in asset sales and higher-than-forecast losses at its finance businesses. The shares were recently off 12 percent.
The S&P 500 slid 19.82 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,340.73 at 1:34 p.m. in New York and is down 2.2 percent in the week. The Dow average lost 186.62, or 1.5 percent, to 12,395.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 46.66, or 2 percent, to 2,305.04. European shares tumbled on GE's report. Asian markets, which closed before GE's results, closed with gains for a second day.
Disney Co. and 3com also led declines in 26 of 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average stocks.
GE, regarded as a bellwether of the U.S. economy, reported 6 percent decline in first-quarter net profit, largely over trouble in its financial-services businesses.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. downgraded GE to neutral,'' saying the company's unexpected profit decline raises credibility concerns.
Meanwhile, 3M Co. dropped 0.4 percent and Disney, the second-biggest U.S. media company, lost 85 cents to $30.50.
Washington Mutual Inc., the largest U.S. savings and loan, slid 33 cents to $11.09 after Goldman analysts recommended selling the shares short.
The Labor Department reported a surge in prices for imported petroleum pushed the price of imports in March, to their biggest monthly percentage increase since November 2007.
U.S. stocks closed Thursday with gains, after broker's upgraded several microchip stocks including Intel Corp. and improved earnings forecast from Wal-Mart Stores helped set a positive tone.