Weak earnings help send stocks lower in midday trading; utilities and technology sectors slump

Markets Associated Press

Stocks are heading lower in midday trading, led by declines in utilities and technology companies.

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Several companies fell Thursday after reporting weak earnings.

Harman International, which makes audio systems for cars, Varian Medical Systems and Celgene all dropped in midday trading Thursday after their revenue fell short of analysts' estimates.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 78 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,956 as of 11:45 a.m. Eastern time.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,096. The Nasdaq composite fell 45 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,977.

Bond prices fell after some mostly encouraging news on the U.S. economy, including a drop in claims for unemployment benefits.

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The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.09 percent.