Bank of America lost 4.7% to lead the KBW Bank Index down almost 2%. Textron Inc. slumped 14% after lowering its forecast for business-jet sales. Caterpillar Inc. slid 1.5% after Macquarie Group Ltd. cut its rating on the shares to neutral. Apple Inc. slid 5.6% to the lowest price since December 2011 after its audio-chip supplier, Cirrus Logic Inc., predicted that sales would miss estimates because of unsold inventory. Cirrus Logic slid 16%.
Some 16 members of the S&P 500 are reporting earnings today, including American Express Co. and EBay Inc. after the close of trading. Analyst predict earnings decreased 1.4% in the period, the first year-over-year decline since 2009, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Earnings beat estimates at 69% of the 55 companies in the S&P 500 that reported results so far while 51% topped revenue estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
‘Driving the Bus’
Stocks fell to their lows of the session after the White House said a letter addressed to President Barack Obama containing a substance that the FBI said was positive for the poison ricin in preliminary testing was intercepted today, a day after a tainted letter targeted a U.S. senator. The letters fueled concern about terrorism following the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon.
“Are the ricin incidents worth a point or two of this selloff? Probably, but it’s not driving the bus,” Mike Shea, a managing partner at New York-based brokerage firm Direct Access Partners LLC, said in an interview.
The Stoxx 600’s retreat extended the drop over the past four days to 3.8%, its worst plunge since July. A gauge of European mining shares retreated 2.4% to the lowest since 2009 on a closing basis as BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group slid more than 3%.
The DAX index tumbled more than 2% in 25 minutes during the first hour of trading. Some 14,000 DAX Index futures contracts expiring in June changed hands in a five minute period about 9:50 a.m. in Frankfurt today, more than 15 times the 20- day average volume for that time of day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Volkswagen AG lost more than 2.7% as a gauge of automakers posted the biggest drop on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Bayer, Germany’s largest drugmaker, retreated 4.3% after a U.S. court ruled that its patent to produce the birth-control pill Yaz was invalid.
European car sales slid to a 20-year low last month. Registrations in March fell 10% to 1.35 million vehicles, their 18th consecutive monthly decline, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA, said in a statement. First-quarter deliveries in the region dropped 9.7% to 3.1 million cars.
ASML Holding NV rallied 2.5%, paring a gain of as much as 9.4%, as Europe’s largest semiconductor-equipment supplier announced a buyback of as much as 1 billion euros of shares and first-quarter profit that beat estimates.