The drop also came on worries over the spread of Ebola and how that would affect the travel industry. The S&P 500 .SPX and Nasdaq .IXIC briefly fell into negative territory for the year on Wednesday as the S&P tumbled more than 3 percent to a session low before rallying late in the session.
The benchmark S&P index has dropped in six of the past eight sessions and is down 8.2 percent from a record closing high Sept. 18. Selling was broad once again, with each of the 10 major S&P sectors in negative territory.
Recent earnings reports have done little to stem the tide of the equity rout.
Netflix shares (NFLX.O) plunged 23.1 percent to $344.98 as the biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 .NDX indexes after it reported quarterly results and said it signed up fewer video-streaming subscribers than forecast for the quarter.
Goldman Sachs (GS.N) shares were off 3.7 percent at $173.25 after posting quarterly results. The S&P financial index .SPSY lost 0.9 percent.
Stock index futures briefly pared losses earlier Thursday after labor market data showed initial jobless claims data dropped 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000, its lowest since 2000. But the market quickly moved back to prior levels.
“The challenge with earnings is it’s all backward looking and the market is always forward looking,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
“When you get in a mode like we are in now, where the market is clearly bearish, investors are somewhat fearful, they tend to focus more on the negatives than the positives, which is why they are ignoring this jobless claims number.”
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 128.47 points, or 0.8 percent, to 16,013.27, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 17.39 points, or 0.93 percent, to 1,845.1 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 45.57 points, or 1.08 percent, to 4,169.75.
The earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to grow 6.7 percent in the third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday, on revenue growth of 4 percent. Google (GOOGL.O) is expected to report earnings after the closing bell on Thursday.
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index and Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing business outlook for October are due at 10:00 a.m. EDT.
Baker Hughes (BHI.N) shares tumbled 9.4 percent to $48.58 after the world’s No.3 oilfield services provider reported a lower-than-expected profit for the first time in five quarters, pulling the S&P energy index .SPNY down 1.4 percent as the worst performing of the major S&P sectors.