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Overnight Markets: US stocks decline despite upbeat earnings

Indexes fall as investors speculated that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to boost the economy will be gradual.

 
Overnight Markets: US stocks decline despite upbeat earnings

US stocks fell on Wednesday, ending a five-day gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, despite better-than-expected earnings from consumer goods companies including Procter & Gamble and Whirlpool as investors speculated that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to boost the economy will be gradual.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 43 points, or 0.39%, to 11,126. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost three points, or 0.27%, to 1,182. But the Nasdaq Composite Index gained six points, or 0.24%, to 2,503.

Investors toned down their expectation on the size and timetable of the Fed's potential purchases of Treasury debt amid a report in The Wall Street Journal that the US central bank hoped to avoid a "shock and awe" approach.

Economic data released on Wednesday was mixed, with sales of new US single-family homes increasing more than forecast in September, while demand for durable goods, excluding aircraft, unexpectedly plunged in the same month.

Materials stocks led the decline in the US stocks, with Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc slumping 2.8%, and AK Steel Holding Co shedding 3.4%.

Elsewhere, Broadcom Inc jumped 11.7% a day after it unexpectedly forecast a potential rise in fourth-quarter revenue. Procter & Gamble rose 0.4% after its quarterly profit beat expectations. Whirlpool declined 4.1% after its sales remained flat and it beat profit expectations by tightly controlling costs. Sprint Nextel Corp. was down 9.9% after posting a wider-than-estimated loss.

In current trading, Asian markets were trading higher on Thursday as Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. led gains among financials after reporting higher profit.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.4% to 129.25 as of 9:52 a.m. in Tokyo, snapping its two-day decline of 2.1%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.1%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 1%. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.3%. Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.3% at 2,988.

In corporate news, Australia & New Zealand Banking surged 2.6% after its half-year profit rose 69%. Canon gained 4% after the company raised its profit forecast. Mitsubishi Corp. declined 0.6% after oil and metal prices declined yesterday.

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