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Wall Street backed away from multiyear highs on Wednesday as the Nasdaq Composite took its biggest tumble since November in the face of blockbuster earnings from tech giants Apple and IBM.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 12.64 points, or 0.11%, to 11825.29, the Standard & Poor's 500 declined 13.10 points, or 1.01%, to 1281.92 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 40.49 points, or 1.46%, to 2725.36. The FOX 50 slid 5.14 points, or 0.56%, to 917.69.

The main culprits for the slide were the diving Nasdaq, tumbling materials stocks and and a financial sector hurt by a disappointing Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) earnings report.

While Wall Street closed solidly in the red, some traders weren't concerned by the pullback. 

“I don’t think this is the tip of a selloff…I’m still a raging bull,” said Jason Weisberg, a NYSE trader and vice president at Seaport Securities. “We’re entitled to a break. The indexes are allowed to blow off a little steam. It’s been unidirectional for the most part since January 1

Indeed, the Nasdaq Composite had been up five of its last six days and landed on Tuesday at levels unseen since November 2007 -- a month before the Great Recession began. But tech stocks retreated even after the big earnings beats from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and IBM (NYSE:IBM).

“It’s been my concern for weeks that the market has already priced in a good chunk of bullishness news and won’t really be able to follow through. That’s what’s happening here,” said Nick Kalivas, vice president of financial research at MF Global.

Most Dow stocks also lost ground, albeit at a much more modest pace. The benchmark index was led lower by financial components American Express (NYSE:AXP) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC). Its best performers were IBM and McDonald's (NYSE:MCD). 

The financial sector put pressure on the broader markets as Goldman Sachs dove nearly 5% after revealing a 53% decline in fourth-quarter earnings to $3.79 a share. While that topped estimates for $3.76, its revenue slid by a worse-than-expected 10% to $8.64 billion. 

AmEx slumped 2.5% after saying it sees fourth-quarter non-GAAP EPS of 94 cents, which would trail the Street's view by a penny. Those preliminary results hurt rivals Visa (NYSE:V) and Discover (NYSE:DFS).

The materials sector was the biggest loser, slumping 2.3% as copper prices declined and steel stocks tumbled in the wake of a Deutsche Bank downgrade of U.S. Steel (NYSE:X), which plunged 6%.

Commodities closed mixed despite more gains for the euro, which climbed for the seventh day of the last eight, gaining 0.62% to $1.3471. Crude oil slid 52 cents a barrel, or 0.57%, to $90.87. Gold gained $2.10 a troy ounce, or 0.15%, to $1,370.20. 

Tech stocks struggled even after Apple once again blew expectations out of the water by posting a profit of $6.43 a share in its fiscal first quarter on $26.74 billion in sales. Analysts had been calling for EPS of just $5.40 on revenue of just $24.43 billion. While the tech darling posted impressive sales totals for many of its devices and unveiled unusually bullish guidance, it did not give any new details about the status of its co-founder and visionary CEO Steve Jobs, who announced a medical leave on Monday.

Wall Street had little reaction to a new government report showing housing starts decreased 4.3% to a rate of 529,000 units in December, capping off a year that saw builders breaking ground on the second fewest homes in half a century. Economists had called for a slighter fall of 0.2%. However, building permits soared 16.7% in December to a rate of 635,000 units.

Corporate Movers

IBM (NYSE:IBM) rallied 3% after beating the Street with a 9.2% rise in fourth-quarter profits to $4.18 on sales of $29 billion. The blue-chip tech company also sees 2011 non-GAAP EPS of at least $13, compared with expectations for $12.58.

Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) lost ground after releasing a 21% rise in fourth-quarter profits that only met expectations and a 12% increase in revenue to $21.6 billion. 

Mosaic (NYSE:MOS) tumbled 10.5% after Cargill announced plans to unload its 64% stake in the fertilizer company in a deal worth $24.3 billion. The sale could make Mosaic a potential takeover target.

US Bancorp (NYSE:USB) slid 3% despite beating the Street with a 62% surge in fourth-quarter profits to 49 cents a share. Revenue rose 7.9% to $4.7 billion, surpassing the $4.53 billion Wall Street had been expecting.

Citigroup (NYSE:C) tapped John Havens as its new president and chief operating officer, elevating a close confidante of CEO Vikram Pandit. Havens, who currently leads Citi’s institutional clients group, will fill an unoccupied role.

State Street (NYSE:STT) sank 4% even after the institutional investing giant beat the Street by a penny with a non-GAAP profit of 87 cents a share. Revenue increased 9.6% to $2.28 billion, exceeding forecasts  topping estimates.

Global Markets

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 1.32% to 5976.70, Germany's DAX declined 0.85% to 7082.76 and France's CAC 40 lost 0.90% to 3976.71.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.36% to 10557.10, Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.1% to 24419.60 and China's Shanghai Composite soared 1.81% to 2708.98.