Stocks Slide in Earnings-Fueled Retreat


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The Dow tumbled some 200 points Friday, putting its gains for the week in jeopardy as traders panned lackluster corporate earnings.

Today's Markets

As of 3:00 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 208 points, or 1.5%, to 13342, the S&P 500 dipped 24.3 points, or 1.7%, to 1433 and the Nasdaq Composite slid 67.4 points, or 2.2%, to 3005.

It has been a busy, and eventful, week for earnings. Several firms posted strong-than-expected results early in the week, helping spur a multi-day rally for Wall Street. However, the sentiment has grown gloomier in recent days. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) shares took a thrashing on Thursday after the search giant's quarterly results that widely trailed estimates were prematurely released during the trading day. Then Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) posted mixed results after the close of trading, pushing shares of the world's biggest software company down by some 2%.

Ahead of the open on Friday, General Electric (NYSE:GE), which is seen as a global bellwether, revealed profits that met expectations and sales that slightly trailed Wall Street's forecasts. Its shares suffered as well in early trading. McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) shares also came under heavy pressure after its earnings per share came in well below expectations as a result of a big negative currency adjustment. The world's biggest burger chain's sales, however, came in better than expectations. Together, the two cost the Dow close to 30 points.

On the economic front, the National Association of Realtors said sales of previously-owned home dropped 1.7% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million units in September from August. Sales were up 11% since the same period last year. Meanwhile, median home prices have soared 11.3% to $183,900 from 2011.

The housing market has been showing renewed signs of life recently, with homebuilder sentiment and sales ticking up. However, economists say it will be a long time until the market recovers to where it was before the housing crisis.

In commodities, oil and gasoline prices both sold off. The benchmark crude contract traded in New York slumped $2.05, or 2.2%, to $90.05 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline skidded lower by 1.8% to $2.696 a gallon.

Gold slumped $20.70, or 1.2%, to $1,724 a troy ounce.

Traders were also paying close attention to a two-day European Council meeting that ends on Friday. The group is expected to discuss tighter economic integration among the 17 euro zone countries and the potential for a singular European Union banking supervisor.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 1.2% to 2542, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.35% to 5896 and the German DAX slumped 0.76% to 7381.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rose 0.22% to 9003 and the Chinse Hang Seng edged up 0.15% to 21552.

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