NEW YORK -
Wall Street stocks fell on Tuesday, hit by signs the euro zone crisis is worsening and evidence that Europe's slowdown is hurting U.S. companies, including bellwether UPS.
The decline was the third straight for the S&P 500 index, which tested its 50-day moving average, a technical support level which could trigger more selling if convincingly broken.
Stocks got a lift late in the session after the Wall Street Journal said Federal Reserve officials were moving closer to taking new steps to spur activity and hiring. Fed officials recently have spelled out what measures they might take, including Chairman Ben Bernanke in a speech last week.
After the market's close, S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures fell on disappointing results from Apple
During the regular session, United Parcel Service
"We are going through an adjustment period where there has been a lot of talk about Europe facing a recession in 2012. Now we are actually seeing it in the earnings and the market is reacting to that," said Gail Dudack, chief investment strategist at Dudack Research Group in New York.
The struggles of the U.S. and euro zone economies intensified in July, surveys showed on Tuesday. Europe's private sector looked set for a prolonged slump as the surveys showed the downturn that began in the euro zone's small economies has since become entrenched in Germany and France.
Concerns about the euro zone grew after Spain was forced to pay the second highest yield on short-term debt since the launch of the euro and European Union officials said Greece had little hope of meeting the terms of its bailout.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 104.14 points, or 0.82 percent, at 12,617.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 12.21 points, or 0.90 percent, at 1,338.31. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 27.16 points, or 0.94 percent, at 2,862.99.
The Fed says it is still considering a third bout of quantitative easing, or QE3, and some analysts expect recent weakness in the U.S. economy could prompt policymakers to launch such a program as early as September.
"Given the events going on around the world, I think the odds are increasing the Fed will take action at one of the next two meetings," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist, RDM Financial, Westport, Connecticut.
Of the 145 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings for the quarter, 66.9 percent have beaten analysts' expectations, Thomson Reuters data showed. Over the past four quarters, 68 percent have beaten estimates.
Cisco Systems Inc
In another sign of the economic malaise from Europe, Texas Instruments Inc
Spanish five-year government bond yields rose above 10-year yields for the first time since June 2001 as investors fretted about the possibility that Madrid may need a full-blown sovereign bailout. The 10-year note last traded at around 7.6 percent.
Volume was about 6.71 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and Amex, compared with the year-to-date daily average of 6.74 billion shares.
Decliners beat advancers on the NYSE by about 22 to 7. On the Nasdaq, decliners beat advancers about 17 to 7.
(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)