Tech stocks have again hurt US investors. Photo: Bloomberg
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index has again led Wall Street sharply lower, closing out a dreary week at its lowest level in more than two months.
The Nasdaq sank 54.37 points (1.34 per cent) to 3,999.73, its lowest close since February 3, when the index settled for one session below the psychologically important 4,000 level.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 143.47 (0.89 per cent) to 16,026.75, while the broad-based S&P 500 shed 17.39 (0.95 per cent) to 1,815.69.
US equities were in the red most of the day, but losses deepened in the last 90 minutes of trade.
Highflying technology and biotechnology stocks are "driving an overall correction in the market," said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management.
"And how far that goes, and how fast, no one can know."
Prominent technology names continued to slump, including Apple (-0.7 per cent), Amazon (-1.7 per cent), Facebook (-1.1 per cent), Priceline (-1.8 per cent) and Twitter (-3.1 per cent).
Some names in the hard-hit biotechnology sector felt more pain, including Biogen (-4.7 per cent) and Celgene (-2.2 per cent). But Gilead Sciences advanced 0.8 per cent.
US banking giant JPMorgan Chase led the Dow lower, tumbling 3.7 per cent after earnings of $US5.3 billion ($A5.7 billion) missed analyst estimates.
The company reported a 19 per cent drop in profits due to weakness in its mortgage and trading businesses.
Wells Fargo, another big bank, rose 0.8 per cent on profits of $US1.05 per share, beating the analyst forecast by eight cents.
General Motors endured another flogging, dropping 4.1 per cent as a US congressional committee released documents that raised more questions about the carmaker's handling of a major vehicle recall.
A report that Herbalife faces a criminal investigation by the FBI and Department of Justice sent shares 14 per cent lower. Herbalife said it has no knowledge of the probe.
Gap fell 2.3 per cent on a six-per cent decline in comparable-store sales for March. Other retailers also had a bad day, including JC Penney (-9.6 per cent), Macy's (-2.0 per cent) and Target (-1.3 per cent).
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury declined to 2.62 per cent from 2.65 per cent on Thursday, while the 30-year fell to 3.48 per cent from 3.52 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.