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Stocks fall on jitters over earnings, tech rout

Saturday - 4/12/2014, 12:10am  ET

Trader Michael Zicchinolfi, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, April 11, 2014. Weaker earnings at JPMorgan Chase are dragging bank stocks lower in early trading.Technology and biotech stocks also fell, a day after the worst rout for the Nasdaq composite index since 2011.(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

BERNARD CONDON
AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Investors drove the stock market lower for a second straight day Friday as they grew anxious that earnings growth was faltering.

Weaker results at JPMorgan Chase dragged bank stocks lower. And big drops in once-soaring tech stocks pushed the Nasdaq composite down for a third week.

"The market has been trying to come back, but each time the selling just picks up," said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential. "The buyers are just not stepping in."

So much for buying on the dip.

Stocks fell from the start of trading on news that JPMorgan had missed analysts' earnings estimates. Investors, who were worried that technology shares were overvalued, dumped those for a second day, with some of the biggest gainers of late falling sharply. Facebook fell 1.1 percent, after a 5 percent drop on Thursday.

The first-quarter earnings season has just started, but investors seem in little mood to wait for results. Financial analysts expect earnings for companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index to drop 1.6 percent from a year earlier, according to FactSet, a financial data provider. At the start of the year, they expected a jump of 4.3 percent.

If profits do fall, it would be only the second quarterly drop in three years.

"Earnings are going to come in on the sloppy side," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. "The market needs to correct," he added, referring to a sharp downturn in stocks.

On Friday, the Nasdaq dropped 54.37 points, or 1.3 percent, to 3,999.73. It was only the second time this year the index has closed below the 4,000 mark. February 3 was the last time it ended below that level.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 143.47 points, or 0.89 percent, to 16,026.75. The S&P 500 fell 17.39 points, or 0.95 percent, to 1,815.69.

All ten industry sectors in the S&P 500 dropped. Consumer discretionary stocks fell the most, down 1.4 percent, and technology stocks were the third-biggest decliner, down 1.2 percent.

Last year, earnings for S&P 500 companies rose 6 percent, a decent showing. Stocks rose much faster -- up nearly 30 percent for the index. Helping stocks rise was the Federal Reserve bond buying designed to stimulate the economy.

"Investors haven't worried about earnings because it hasn't mattered. Fundamentals haven't mattered," said Prudential's Krosby. "All that has mattered ... is what is the Federal Reserve was going to do."

She said a so-called correction in indexes -- a drop of 10 percent from highs -- would be healthy for the market, giving it a sturdier base on which to rally.

The Nasdaq is already well on its way. It is now 8 percent below its recent high in March. The S&P 500 is off 4 percent from its recent high on April 2.

Among tech stocks making big moves Friday, Netflix fell 2.4 percent, Amazon, 1.7 percent and Google's new Class C shares, 1.9 percent.

On Friday, JPMorgan Chase fell $2.10, or 3.7 percent, to $55.30. The nation's biggest bank by assets said its earnings slid 20 percent in the first quarter as revenue from bond trading and mortgage lending declined.

"They're just struggling to grow, and then they didn't have the strength out of the investment bank to help offset that," said Shannon Stemm, financial services analyst for Edward Jones. "All around, it's just a lackluster quarter for them."

Other stocks making news:

-- General Motors dropped $1.37, or 4.1 percent, to $31.93 after it said it must fix a second ignition part in compact cars it is recalling for switch problems. It said the fix will increase its first-quarter recall costs above $1 billion.

-- Gap Inc. fell 89 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $38.40. The San Francisco-based company, which owns the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands, said revenue for stores open at least a year fell 6 percent.

-- Zoe's Kitchen, a restaurant chain, soared 65 percent in its trading debut. The stock gained $9.72 to $24.72.

___

AP Market Writer Steve Rothwell contributed to this report.


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