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By Jennifer Yousfi
Another batch of earnings announcements sent shares lower, as weak results from non-financial firms fueled investor concerns that economic weakness is spreading to other industries.
At midday in New York, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average Index was down 76.86 points (-0.60%), to trade at 12,748.16. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index shed 17.41 points (-0.72%), to reach 2,390.63. And the broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index decreased 8.41 points (-0.61%), to hit 1,379.76.
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Most sectors were down, with the energy sector (up 0.43%) and the basic materials sector (up 0.08%) posting the only gains. The consumer cyclical sector (down 1.75%) and the technology sector (down 1.12%) had the largest declines.
"Earnings and earnings estimates are coming down," Mike Ryan, the New York-based head of wealth management research for the Americas at UBS Financial Services Inc., which oversees about $734 billion, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. "We're likely to see stocks continuing to be under pressure" in the first half of 2008.
Despite a 24% increase in profit, McDonald's Corp. (MCD) slumped after it announced a slight decrease in same-store sales for March.
In overseas markets earlier today, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index lost 1.1% with a decrease of 148.73 points to close at 13,547.82. Hong Kong's blue-chip Hang Seng Index gained almost 1% with a 217.48-point climb, to 24,939.15.
At midday, the dollar had lost ground against the euro (down 0.457%) and the pound sterling (down 0.812%), but gained ground against the yen (up 0.204%).
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