Stocks fell on Tuesday on news that a meeting by euro zone finance ministers was canceled, adding to doubts about the region's efforts to tackle its debt crisis.
While the meeting of European Union finance ministers set for Wednesday was canceled, the summit of EU and euro zone leaders will proceed on Wednesday as scheduled, an EU spokesman said.
This comes as a shock because we thought they (European leaders) were nearing an agreement, said Larry Peruzzi, senior equity trader at Cabrera Capital Markets in Boston.
The gathering of finance ministers, known as an Ecofin, was canceled because details of the meeting had not been finalized, sources told Reuters.
Further pressuring the market, data showed U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly dropped in October to its lowest level in 2 1/2 years as consumers fretted about job and income prospects.
The Dow Jones industrial Average was down 134.72 points, or 1.13 percent, at 11,778.90. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 16.98 points, or 1.35 percent, at 1,237.21. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 31.98 points, or 1.18 percent, at 2,667.46.
Netflix shares plummeted after the company late on Monday said it lost more customers than it anticipated in the third quarter and warned of still more departures to come.
Shares of the entertainment company fell more than 36 percent to $75.99 as the one-time Wall Street star grapples with the fallout from a price increase and other unpopular moves.
3M Co shares also fell 5.2 percent to $77.89 after the manufacturing company reported a 1 percent decline in quarterly earnings, falling well short of analyst expectations.