Stocks open lower ahead of earnings season

Stocks open lower ahead of earnings season; Lufkin soars on GE bid

Associated Press
Stocks edge higher as earnings reports begin
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FILE- In this Thursday, April 4, 2013, file photo, trader Luigi Muccitelli, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, April 4, 2013. Asian stock markets were mixed Monday April 8, 2013 amid concerns about tensions on the Korean Peninsula and bird flu in China, but European stocks rose as traders looked ahead to corporate earnings season in the U.S. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks opened slightly lower on Wall Street Monday as major U.S. companies prepare to start reporting their first-quarter earnings results.

Alcoa, the first company in the Dow Jones industrial average to report earnings, will release its results after the markets close Monday. Alcoa was unchanged in early trading at $8.24.

Currently, analysts expect earnings for companies in the S&P 500 to rise by 0.6 percent, with the telecommunications and so-called consumer discretionary stocks forecast to lead the growth in profits, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. Consumer discretionary stocks include department store chains such as Macy's.

The Dow fell 50 points, or 0.4 percent, to 14,515 in the first half-hour of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,550.

Telecommunications and health care stocks had the biggest declines in early trading, falling 1 percent and 0.7 percent respectively. Seven of the 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor's 500 index were lower.

Lufkin Industries, an oilfield equipment maker, surged $24.22 to $88.15 after General Electric Co. agreed to buy the company for $3 billion in an effort to bolster its oil and gas operations. GE said Monday it would pay Lufkin shareholders $88.50 per share in the all-cash deal, a 38 percent premium over Lufkin's closing price of $63.93 Friday. GE edged 8 cents lower to $22.87.

Stocks fell Friday after the government reported a sharp slowdown in hiring last month that was far worse than economists had expected. The report capped a bad week for stocks, with the S&P 500 logging its biggest weekly decline of the year, as signs emerged that U.S. economic growth is starting to cool.

In other trading, the Nasdaq composite index dropped two points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,201.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose from 1.71 percent to 1.72 percent, after falling as low as 1.69 percent Friday, the lowest level of the year so far.

The benchmark rate has fallen in the past month as demand for low-risk assets increased amid mounting evidence that growth in the U.S. economy is slowing.

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