NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
U.S. stocks were weaker at the open after reports of escalating violence in the Middle East put pressure on markets the first day of the second quarter.
In the just-completed first quarter, analysts surveyed by First Call expect profits to have fallen 8.8 percent. Companies will release detailed accounts of their performances over the next few weeks.
At 9:32 a.m., the Dow Jones industrial average fell 44.56 to 10,359.41. The Nasdaq composite fell 16.08 to 1,828.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 6.02 to 1,141.09.
Casting a dark shadow over trading, Israeli forces were on the move in the West Bank one day after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that his country was at war with terrorism. The declaration came after two suicide bombings earlier in the day, one of which resulted in the deaths of at least 14 people.
In international trade, Asian stocks closed mixed while European markets were closed for the holiday. The dollar was stronger than the euro but fell versus the yen. Oil prices rose to a six-month high on the Middle East tensions.
Treasurys were modestly higher, with the ten-year note yield at 5.38 percent.
Among a large list of brokerage downgrades for the new quarter, automaker Ford (F: down $0.63 to $15.86, Research, Estimates) was lowered to a "sell" from a "hold" by Prudential while telecom Nokia (NOK: down $0.37 to $20.37, Research, Estimates) was cut to a "buy" from a "strong buy" at Credit Suisse First Boston.
Economic reports due out later in the day include the Institute of Supply Management's report on March manufacturing activity as well as a report on February construction spending.