The Dow Jones industrial average sank 210 points, or 1.6 percent, to 13,136 in the first hour of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 21 points to 1,412. The Nasdaq composite index was off 33 points at 2,983.
3M, which makes everything from Scotch tape to coatings for LCD screens and is an economic bellwether, reduced its profit expectations for this year because of "current economic realities."
Chemical maker DuPont said it will cut 1,500 jobs and take other steps to increase competitiveness after earnings fell sharply last quarter. UPS reported lower earnings and said it was uncertain about the holiday shopping season.
Financial analysts have predicted that earnings for S&P 500 companies for July through September would be lower than the year before, breaking a three-year winning streak.
There was more bad news on manufacturing Tuesday from one of the regional branches of the Federal Reserve.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va., reported that manufacturing in the central Atlantic region "pulled back" in October following a slight improvement the month before. Manufacturers were also less optimistic about the next six months.
The price of crude oil fell $2.41 per barrel to $86.24. And as investors sold stocks, they bought bonds, driving yields lower. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note sank to 1.77 percent from 1.82 percent Monday.
Among individual stocks, 3M and DuPont were among the worst performers. DuPont plunged $4.15, or 8.3 percent, to $45.61. 3M was down $2.37, or 2.6 percent, at $90.16.
Apple fell $6 to $628 ahead of the expected release of a smaller version of its iPad. Apple has the most sway among stocks in the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite and helped drive those indexes lower.
Materials stocks and energy companies fell the most in the broader market, each losing more than 2 percent.