US stocks lower on earnings, European gloom

US stocks closed sharply lower Wednesday in the wake of disappointing earnings reports and a 5.5 percent plunge in Apple shares, along with dreary economic sentiment in Europe.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 141.38 (0.96 percent) to 14,615.40.

The broad-based S&P 500 sank 22.85 (1.45 percent) to 1,551.72, while the Nasdaq Composite Index nose-dived 60.29 (1.85 percent) to 3,204.34.

The losses came after a disappointing earnings report from Bank of America sent it and other banking shares lower.

Apple also fell considerably after a supplier slashed its profit guidance, suggesting, analysts said, slow iPhone and iPad sales at Apple itself.

The US retreat also followed a day of losses in Europe amid speculation of a German credit rating downgrade and commentary from the head of the Bundesbank predicting that the European economic slump would last a decade more.