The Dow Jones Industrial Average had the biggest point drop since November 2011.
The Dow closed at 12,932.73, down 312.95 points, or 2.4 percent. The S&P 500 also dropped 2.4 percent to 1,394.54 while the Nasdaq Composite fell 2.5 percent to 2,937.29.
Stocks opened lower Wednesday morning with investors concerned about the looming fiscal cliff and the European economy.
Protests against Greek austerity measures persisted for the second day in Athens with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras asking parliament to vote on spending cuts and tax increases.
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Four years ago, the Dow suffered one of its worst point drops ever the day after President Obama's election. The Dow dropped 486 points, more than 5 percent, to settle at 9139.27. The Dow was 40 percent higher since then.
Even with today's drop, the Dow was still up 6 percent for the year.