NEW YORK — US stocks sank Tuesday for the fifth straight drop as worries about upcoming earnings, slower growth and the possibility of a Spain-driven return to crisis in Europe, kept a cloud over trade.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 213.66 points (1.65 percent) to 12,715.93.
The broader S&P 500 dropped 23.61 points (1.71 percent) to 1,358.59, while the tech-rich Nasdaq fell 55.86 (1.83 percent) to 2,991.22.
The main driver for Tuesday's fall was the return of nervousness over Europe as yields on Spanish debt jumped amid rising doubt over its ability to stabilize its finances, said Gregory Volokhine of Meeschaert Capital.
"The focus has turned to Spain where the rates have climbed in a worrying way," he said.
Moreover, he added, the European debt crisis "is beginning to have repercussions on US exporters."
It was the fifth straight fall in the market, leaving the Dow and S&P indexes 3.5 percent down from their four-year highs hit on April 2.
"The short-term momentum is definitely down right now, and jumping into long positions is akin to catching a falling knife," said technical analyst Joe Bell of Schaeffer's Investment Research.
Bank of America led the Dow blue chips lower with a 4.4 percent tumble, as investors appeared worried over how banks would fare in their first-quarter earnings reports.
By sector industrials took the biggest fall, with Ford losing 3.6 percent, and Alcoa fell 2.9 percent ahead of its first-quarter earnings release.
But the aluminum giant Alcoa reported after the close of trade net earnings that handily beat analysts's expectations: The company reported net income of $94 million, or 10 cents per share, compared with average forecasts of a loss of four cents.
Troubled big box electronics retailer Best Buy dropped 5.9 percent after its chief executive Brian Dunn resigned, despite the company insisting there were no differences between Dunn and the board of directors.
On the Nasdaq, video distributor Netflix sank 4.5 percent and online travel discounter Priceline lost 3.1 percent.
Bond prices rallied. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury slipped to 1.99 percent from 2.04 percent Monday, while the 30-year yield dropped to 3.14 percent from 3.18 percent.