BRIEFCASE

Protesters march on their way from Bank of America headquarters Wednesday in Charlotte.

NEW YORK — Fear of European debt is once again playing havoc with Wall Street.

Stocks pitched down Wednesday in the U.S. as borrowing rates climbed for Spain and Italy, a sign that investors are losing confidence in those countries’ finances. Many fear Spain, strangled by high unemployment and a real estate collapse, could be the next nation to require financial rescue.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down as much as 184 points before recovering about half that. The average has fallen for six consecutive days, its longest losing streak since last summer. The Dow closed down 97.03, or 0.8 percent, at 12,835.06. The S&P 500 fell 9.14, or 0.7 percent, to 1,354.58. The Nasdaq dropped 11.56, or 0.4 percent, to 2,934.71.

CHARLOTTE — Four people were arrested Wednesday as they tried to force their way into the annual Bank of America shareholders meeting. Hundreds of people gathered on the streets as police officers worked to contain the protest.

Inside the company’s headquarters, the protests continued. Shareholder after shareholder took the microphone to berate the bank for its handling of foreclosures, its investments in payday lenders, and also investments in the coal industry.

CEO Brian Moynihan’s attempts at sidestepping hard questions or deflecting answers were met with loud jeers. At least 20 shareholders spoke at the meeting. Almost all disapproved of various Bank of America practices.

SAN FRANCISCO — Cisco Systems’ quarterly earnings surged 20 percent in the latest sign that a recently completed overhaul is paying off for the world’s largest maker of computer-networking equipment.

The results released Wednesday also may help ease worries that Cisco’s comeback might be derailed by a sluggish economy, particularly in Europe.

Cisco earned $2.2 billion during its fiscal third quarter, which spanned February through April. Revenue rose 7 percent from last year to $11.6 billion.

The solid showing largely reflected the savings from a roughly $1 billion reduction in annual expenses that CEO John Chambers wrangled last year by laying off workers and jettisoning operations that he believed were distracting the company.

NEW YORK — The founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, who was ousted as chairman for a stock sale that violated company policy, said the transaction was triggered after he was caught off-guard by a swift drop in the firm’s stock price.

Robert Stiller said Wednesday that he didn’t expect shares to fall so steeply last week. The decline forced him to sell the shares on a margin call, which occurred during a period in which the company prohibits stock sales by insiders.

Investors are subject to margin calls when they put stocks up as collateral to borrow cash. When the value of the collateral drops, banks require borrowers to cover the gap.

WASHINGTON — Mortgage giant Fannie Mae reported its first net income gain since it was taken over by the government in 2008.

Fannie said Wednesday it earned $2.7 billion. Instead of seeking more aid from taxpayers, the company will pay a dividend of $2.8 billion to the Treasury Department.

The company was able to report the gain mostly because it had lower expenses. Two key reasons: home price declines have slowed and fewer mortgages are in serious delinquency.

Wire reports