U.S. stocks dropped for the first time Wednesday in four days as an unexpected tumble in February factory orders sparked concerns over the economy while the outlook for bank profits worsened.
Clear Channel Communications Inc. posted its biggest drop in 19 years on concern banks will pull loans for the broadcaster's $19.5 billion takeover. Clear Channel shares were down 19 percent in recent action.
In corporate developments, Motorola Inc. shares rose 1 percent after the board of directors approved a plan to break the company into two independent, publicly traded companies.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 10.33, or 0.8 percent, to 1,342.66 at 11:50 a.m. in New York. The Dow decreased 105.42, or 0.84 percent, to 12,427.18. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 24.90, or 1.06 percent, to2,316.15 . Three stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
Citigroup Inc. dropped the most in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, pushing financials to their biggest decline in nearly two weeks after Oppenheimer & Co.'s Meredith Whitney said the largest U.S. bank's quarterly loss will be four times larger than it had been previously forecast.
Citigroup lost $1.29, or 5.5 percent, to $22.13. Whitney cut her full-year estimate to a loss of 15 cents a share from profit of 75 cents to reflect potential first-quarter write downs. Clear Channel dropped $5.59, or 17.11 percent, to $26.99