NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks were lower Thursday as the financial sector was squeezed by disappointing earnings from Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC) and high-momentum tech names were caught up in a selloff.
The S&P 500 was down 0.66%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.46%, and the Nasdaq slid 1.2%.
Bank of America and Citigroup tumbled after both reported quarterly revenue and profits below estimates. A day earlier, JPMorgan (JPM) tanked after the bank racked up nearly $1 billion in legal costs associated with government investigations in the fourth quarter. Wells Fargo (WFC) also declined on a so-so quarterly report.
High-momentum tech names were dragged lower, led by a drop in Apple (AAPL) shares of more than 2%. The company was under pressure after analysts at Mizuho downgraded the stock to "neutral" based on a predicted slowdown in iPhone sales.
Amazon (AMZN) shares were also lower as Pacific Crest analysts reduced their 2015 revenue estimates by 1.7% to account for currency risks. However, the firm reiterated an "outperform" rating and raised operating margin and profit forecasts.
Crude oil trading was volatile after the commodity posted its biggest gain in two-and-a-half years on Wednesday. Earlier Thursday, West Texas Intermediate had rallied more than 3% and reclaimed a level above $50 a barrel. By midafternoon, oil had fallen 4.2% to $46.44 a barrel.
"It's more short-covering," said Michael Ball, portfolio manager of Weatherstone Capital Management, about the increased volatility in oil. "As people watch crude steadily come down, nervously trying to pick a bottom, once they started to see crude start to stabilize and move higher, they're now rushing in."
The Swiss National Bank unsettled global markets by scrapping its four-year-old cap on its currency, removing the 1.20 floor against the euro. Shortly after the announcement, the franc soared nearly 30% against the euro. The euro is now down around 12% against the franc at $1.0544.
European markets suffered a choppy trading session with Germany's DAX losing 250 points in the minutes after the Swiss National Bank's announcement before bouncing back. The Swiss Market Index plummeted more than 10% as investors fled in favor of "safe haven" assets such as gold and bonds.
The Producer Price Index for December fell 0.3%, reflecting the impact of lower gasoline prices, a slightly deeper dip than a 0.2% decrease in November. Economists had expected a drop of 0.4%. Excluding volatile items such as gas, core prices climbed 0.3% compared to an expected 0.1% increase.
Target (TGT) shares jumped 2% after the company announced its full exit from Canada. The retailer will shutter 133 stores in the country. Best Buy (BBY) slid after warning of lower sales in the first half of this year on price pressure and weaker demand. Shares were down more than 11%.
BlackBerry (BBRY) shares were coming back down to earth after soaring nearly 30% Wednesday afternoon on Samsung takeover rumors. The smartphone maker denied reports that Samsung had approached it with an offer. Shares dropped 18.7%.
Adobe (ADBE) shares gained 0.7% as its board announced a new $2 billion buyback program through to 2017. The company has been active in repurchasing stock, buying up $689 million over fiscal 2014.
RadioShack (RSH) plummeted nearly 30% on reports it could file for bankruptcy as early as next month. The electronics retailer had depleted cash reserves following a failed turnaround attempt, according to the Wall Street Journal.
--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.