U.S. stocks feel sharply again Wednesday, as the Dow Jones Industrials shed almost 4 percent just before noon ET, and the NASDAQ and S&P 500 dropped more than 3 percent each.

At 11:55 a.m. ET, stocks were just above session lows as selling pressure remained steady and heavy.

On Tuesday, U.S. markets rose on news that the Fed would keep interest rates near record lows until at least mid-2013 in an effort to buoy the slow-growth economy and stave off a new recession. But by Wednesday investors were focused on the weak global economy.

The Dow was down 422 points, or 3.76 percent, to 10,817.30, while the NASDAQ was off 76.93 points, or 3.12 percent, to 2,405.24, and the S&P was down 41.21 points, or 3.51 percent, to 1,131.32.

Gold rose as stocks dropped. Gold was up $37.40 per ounce to $1,780.40 as money poured from equities into investments considered safe amid the global economic turmoil.

"Investors are still trying to discern whether it's going to be a double-dip recession or just a slowdown," said Oliver Pursche, president of Gary Goldberg Financial Services, in an interview with The Associated Press.

Financial stocks pushed U.S. stocks lower. Bank of New York Mellon Corp. fell 3.7 percent after the company said it will cut 1,500 jobs, or roughly three percent of its global workforce.

Dow component Walt Disney also took a tumble, and was among the Dow's worst performers.

Disney on Wednesday fell 11.2 percent to $30.80 one day after the company's quarterly results failed to reassure investors that the entertainment company can perform well in a weak U.S. economy.