Stock markets take dive on poor earnings reports

U.S. stocks slumped Tuesday after some of the market’s largest companies reported disappointing earnings, taking investors on a turbulent ride that deepened the losses for the year.

The Dow dropped 291.49 points, or 1.7 percent, to close at 17,387.21. It is now 3.7 percent below its record high of 18,053.71 on Dec. 26. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 27.53 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,029.56. It’s down 2.9 percent from its high of 2,090.57 on Dec. 29. The Nasdaq composite dropped 90.27 points, or 1.9 percent, to 4,681.50.

Apple posts record haul of $74.6 billion for quarter

Apple had another blowout quarter thanks to its new plus-sized iPhones, which helped the company smash sales records for the holiday season. Apple said Tuesday that it sold 74.5 million iPhones during the three months that ended Dec. 31, beating analysts’ expectations for the latest models of Apple’s most popular gadget, introduced in September.

The surge in iPhone sales drove the company’s total revenue to $74.6 billion, up 30 percent from a year earlier.

An hour without selfies: Facebook, Instagram down

No storm selfies, no status updates. With Facebook and Instagram down for nearly an hour overnight, what were legions of users to do?

At midday Tuesday in Asia, users of PCs and Facebook’s mobile app reported they lost access. Facebook and Instagram also were down simultaneously in the United States, Australia and the U.K. On its website for developers, Facebook said the “major outage” lasted one hour.

Facebook says an internal technical change affected its configuration systems and denied that it was hacked. Lizard Squad, a group notorious for attention-seeking antics online, had claimed responsibility on Twitter for the outages.

Sales of new homes surge as market shows strength

Sales of new U.S. homes accelerated strongly in December, a sign that home-buying may improve this year after a lackluster 2014.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new home sales climbed 11.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000. The gains were not enough to offset essentially flat home-buying over the course of 2014. Just 435,000 new homes were bought last year, a modest 1.2 percent improvement from 2013.

The growth in December pointed to rising sales in 2015, buoyed by the combination of strong hiring in recent months and drastically lower mortgage rates. Home values are also rising at a slower pace, improving affordability for would-be buyers.