US stocks fall on weak bank earnings

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks Thursday fell for a fifth straight day following disappointing US bank earnings and a surprise move by the Swiss central bank to strengthen its currency.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 17,325.04, down 102.05 points (0.59 per cent).

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 18.52 (0.92 per cent) to 1,992.75, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slumped 68.50 (1.48 per cent) to 4,570.82.

US quarterly bank earnings continued to disappoint, with Bank of America net income dropping 11.3 per cent and Citigroup profits sinking 86 per cent on a hefty legal charge.

Bank of America shares plummeted 5.5 per cent, while Citi shares dropped 4.3 per cent.

Equity markets in Britain, France and Germany all gained at least 1.7 per cent after Switzerland's central bank scrapped a policy to artificially hold down the value of the Swiss franc against the euro.

The Swiss move and the ensuing drop in the ensuing fall in the euro is "perceived to be an economic benefit" to Europe because a cheaper currency benefits manufacturing exports, said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial.