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By Jennifer Yousfi
U.S. markets got off to a slow start on Monday, as worries about weak first quarter earnings continued to drag on stocks.
At midday in New York, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average Index was down 21.00 points (-0.17%), to trade at 12,304.42. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 10.26 points (-0.45%), to reach 2,279.98. And the broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index decreased 4.85 points (-0.36%), to hit 1,327.98.
The energy sector (up 0.80%) and the transportation sector (up 0.49%) posted the biggest gains, while the financial sector (down 0.93%) and the consumer cyclical sector (down 0.42%) posted the largest declines.
"We expect generally disappointing results and a swath of lowered profit guidance that will drive the Standard & Poor's 500 Index lower," a team led by David Kostin, Goldman's New York- based U.S. investment strategist, wrote in a report today.
Shares of Wachovia Corp. (WB) dropped after the bank announced it would reduce its dividend and raise $7 billion in capital.
"Wachovia's not great news, but it certainly shouldn't catch us by surprise – we know what business they're in," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Jefferies & Co., told MarketWatch.
In overseas markets early today, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index lost 3.1% with a decline of 406.22 points to close at 12,917.51. Hong Kong's blue-chip Hang Seng Index dropped 3.5% with an 856.59-point loss, to close at 23,811.20.
At midday, the dollar had gained ground against the yen (up 0.010%), but lost ground against the euro (down 0.114%) and the pound sterling (down 0.666%).
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