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Stocks Plunge on Earnings Woes, Spain Worries


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. equity averages plunged Tuesday after another round of poor quarterly numbers and lowered outlooks from U.S. companies deepened concerns about a widespread slowdown in the global economy.

Europe's precarious finances were also a drag on trading as Spanish bond yields rose following a downgrade of five of the country's regions by Moody's and the disclosure by Spain's central bank that it may not be able to meet its budget deficit goals for 2012.

Even Apple (AAPL) making a big product announcement this afternoon didn't help sentiment. As expected, the company unveiled the iPad Mini, a smaller version of its market-dominating tablet product, but the stock closed down 3.3% following the news, which was also accompanied by a refresh of the company's Mac personal computer line.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 243 points, or 1.82%, to finish at 13,102.53, its weakest close since Sept. 5. The blue-chip index is still up 7.24% year-to-date.

Twenty-eight of the Dow's 30 components closed in the red, led by 3M (MMM), Alcoa (AA), Chevron (CVX), du Pont (DD), and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

Shares of du Pont fell 9% after the diversified industrial company, whose products include seeds, chemicals and engineering polymers, came in short of Wall Street's expectations with its third-quarter results, citing soft demand in the titanium dioxide and photovoltaic markets. It also announced plans to lay off 1,500 employees.

3M's stock closed down 4.1% after the company cut its full-year profit outlook citing "current economic realities."

Shares of United Technologies (UTX) lost 0.98% after the company lowered its sales view for the full year, citing a slow recovery in the commercial aerospace aftermarket and continued uncertainty in the global economy.

The only blue chips in positive territory were Intel (INTC) and Microsoft (MSFT).

The S&P 500 sank nearly 21 points, or 1.44%, to settle at 1413, also its worst close since Sept. 5, while the Nasdaq tanked more than 26 points, or 0.88%, to close at 2990, the index's first finish below 3000 since Aug. 6.

Losers were ahead of winners by a 2.7-to-1 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange and a 1.8-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. Volume totaled 3.57 billion on the Big Board and 1.83 billion on the Nasdaq.

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