U.S. stocks fell, led by technology shares, after investors were disappointed by Motorola's results and Microsoft's failure to sustain its initial gains on a plan to distribute as much as $75 billion to shareholders.
"Expectations were very high going into this season" for profits, said Gordon Fowler, who oversees $14 billion as chief investment officer of Glenmede Trust in Philadelphia. "Some of the euphoria is wearing off. Companies have been conservative about what they can earn."
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index shed 14.79, or 1.3 percent, to 1093.88, with most of the drop coming in the last two hours. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 102.94, or 1 percent, to 10,046.13. Both benchmarks closed at two-month lows. The Nasdaq composite index fell to a level not seen since Oct. 24. It lost 42.70, or 2.2 percent, to 1874.37, led by Nextel Communications, Intel and Cisco Systems.
The benchmarks reached their peaks in the first hour of trading, as did Microsoft shares, which erased more than half of their gains to close up 54 cents at $28.86.
Yesterday began the busiest two-day stretch for second-quarter earnings reports. Fifty-five companies in the S&P 500 reported yesterday, while 65 are scheduled to announce today. More than one-third of benchmark members release results this week.
Profit growth for companies in the S&P 500 slowed to 23.2 percent in the second quarter from 27.5 percent in the first, according to Thomson Financial; analysts predict growth will ease to 14.8 percent this period.
An index of technology companies contributed the most to the S&P 500's decline. Motorola, the world's second-largest maker of mobile phones, dropped $1.22, to $14.87. The company said it shipped 24.1 million handsets in the second quarter, down 5 percent from shipments of 25.3 million units in the first period. Nextel fell $1.54, to $24.46.
Intel, the world's largest semiconductor maker, declined 68 cents, to $22.56. Cisco, the largest maker of computer-networking equipment, shed 71 cents, to $21.17.
Some members of the Dow average reported earnings or gave forecasts that surpassed analysts' estimates.
United Technologies, the maker of Pratt & Whitney engines, gained $2.10, to $92.67. Second-quarter profit climbed 32 percent, helped by acquisitions and sales of Otis elevators and Carrier air conditioners. Honeywell International, the world's largest maker of cockpit electronics, rose 71 cents, to $36.61. J.P. Morgan Chase, the second-biggest U.S. bank, climbed 42 cents, to $36.82.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 82.82, to 6390.21; the American Stock Exchange index fell 13.33, to 1248.15; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 15.62, to 548.57.
* Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones by 7 to 2 on the NYSE, where trading volume rose to 1.68 billion shares, from 1.44 billion on Tuesday. On the Nasdaq Stock Market, decliners outnumbered advancers by 2 to 0 and volume totaled 2.07 billion, up from 1.58 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note fell $2.19 per $1,000 invested, and its yield rose to 4.47 percent, from 4.44 percent on Tuesday.
* The dollar rose against the Japanese yen and the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 109.96 yen, up from 108.57 late Tuesday, and a euro bought $1.2241, down from $1.2335.
* Light, sweet crude oil for September delivery settled at $40.58, up 14 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery fell to $397.10 a troy ounce, from $401.90 on Tuesday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.