Stocks erase gains, turn lower

Wall Street retreats in choppy early trade. Brutal GDP report, earnings news in focus.

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By staff

What is hurting you the most?
  • Housing meltdown and foreclosures
  • Job cuts and unemployment
  • Cutbacks in government services

NEW YORK( -- Stocks gave up early gains Friday, turning negative as investors considered a report showing the economy's biggest quarterly decline in 26 years and a slew of weak earnings reports.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost 40 points, or 0.4%, around 40 minutes into the session. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index lost 4 points, or 0.5%. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 4 points, or 0.3%.

The government reported a 3.8% annual decline in fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth. It was a 26-year low for the broadest measure of the economy. But economists had been expecting an even worse decline of 5.5%.

The Dow ended nearly 3% lower Thursday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also both shed about 3%. Prior to that, the Dow had gained for three straight sessions and the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq had both gained for 4 straight sessions.

Corporate results: Oil producer Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500) reported a 33% plunge in profit to $7.8 billion because of plummeting oil prices.

But Exxon Mobil reported annual net income of $45.2 billion, an American record.

Oil firm Chevron (CVX, Fortune 500) reported the fourth-quarter net income rose slightly to $4.9 billion, while full-year net income jumped 28% to nearly $24 billion.

Consumer products company Procter & Gamble (PG, Fortune 500) reported a 61% jump in quarterly diluted net earnings, compared to the year-earlier quarter, to $1.58 per share.

Industrial supplies manufacturer Honeywell (HON, Fortune 500) said its fourth-quarter earnings per share rose to 97 cents from the year-earlier figure of 91 cents.

Online retailer (AMZN, Fortune 500) reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings after the close Thursday. Shares gained 17% Friday morning.

World markets: Worries about the global economy pressured markets in Asia, with Japan's Nikkei ending 3% lower. European stocks rose in afternoon trading.

Oil and money: Oil prices rose $1.19 to $42.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The dollar rose versus the euro and the British pound, but dropped against the yen. To top of page

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