Stocks shudder on Wall Street following steep drops overseas

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Stocks are falling sharply on Wall Street, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 400 points and extending the market's recent string of losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both were down around 0.5% on the day.

The share values of several tech giants all fell on Wednesday, including Facebook (down 5.41 percent), Amazon (down 5.91 percent), Google's parent company Alphabet (down 5.17 percent), AT&T (down 8.08 percent) and Netflix (down 9.4 percent).

3M fell 6.6 per cent and Caterpillar lost 7.8 per cent. Caterpillar said Trump's taxes on imported steel were driving up costs.

DOES NOT COMPUTE: Texas Instruments fell 4.9 percent to $95.35 after the chipmaker delivered quarterly results that fell short of Wall Street's forecasts.

The Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 4.4 per cent on Wednesday, the most in more than seven years, erasing nearly $US33 billion ($47 billion) from the fortunes of technology's 61 richest people, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The S&P 500 lost 84.59 points, or 3.1 per cent, to 2,656.10.

Australia S&P/ASX 200 Index futures fell 1.6 percent.

The Nasdaq slid 31.09 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,437.54.

Furthermore, the latest figures from the US Commerce Department revealed that new home sales fell to a two-year low - the latest sign that rising mortgage rates and higher property prices were hurting demand.

While third-quarter profit growth estimates have risen to 22.4 percent from 21.6 percent in the last 10 days, weaker forecasts have pulled down fourth-quarter growth estimates to 19.5 percent from 20 percent, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

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Disappointing quarterly results and outlooks continued to weigh on the market, stoking investors' jitters over future growth in corporate profits.

Technology stocks and media and communications companies accounted for much of the selling. Brent crude, used to price global oils, slid 0.4 percent to $76.17 a barrel in London.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major indexes in Europe finished mixed.

Close to 17 percent of companies on the broad S&P 500 index have reported earnings for the third quarter, and over half of them did better than expected.

Marijuana producers pushed health care stocks lower by 5.9 per cent. Canopy Growth Corp. was down 7.6 per cent, while Aphria Inc. dropped 7.3 per cent.

Energy stocks declined despite the pickup in US oil prices.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index sank 3.1 percent. Wholesale gasoline slipped 0.8 percent to $1.82 a gallon.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 112.51 yen from 112.47 yen on Tuesday. Silver dropped 0.8 percent to $14.68 an ounce. It was down 62 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,254. Copper was little changed at $2.76 a pound.

The Dow lost 462 points, or 1.8 percent, to 24,853.

Futures on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average were down 2.7 percent in Singapore.

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