Stocks took their biggest drop in two weeks after the German government played down hopes that Europe's debt crisis would be resolved soon.
Expectations that a solution could be reached at an upcoming European summit lifted stocks last week. But Germany's finance chief said Monday those expectations were too optimistic.
For the major indexes, it was the worst day since Oct. 3. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 247 points, or 2.1 percent, to close at 11,397.
The S&P 500 index lost 24, or 1.9 percent, to 1,201.
The Nasdaq fell 53, or 2 percent, to 2,615.
Weak corporate earnings reports also pulled stocks lower.
Nearly five stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was below average at 3.7 billion shares.
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