US Stocks Slip on Weak Earnings

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are mostly lower Friday morning after a batch of weak quarterly reports. Retail stocks are sliding after a disappointing report from department store operator Nordstrom. Oil prices are in decline after a big surge over the past week.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 68 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,344 as of 10:30 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gave up 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,911. The Nasdaq composite picked up 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,490 as tech stocks inched higher.

SHOPPING AROUND: Retailers struggled again after holiday-season results from department store operator Nordstrom disappointed Wall Street. The company said its sales were weaker than it expected and its profits were hurt because it had to match discounts offered by competitors.

Nordstrom gave up $4.78, or 9.1 percent, to $47.94 while Macy's fell $2.03, or 4.9 percent, to $39.10. Retail stocks also stumbled Thursday after Wal-Mart reported weak quarterly sales and cut its forecasts for the year.

V.F. Corp, the company behind brands such as Vans, North Face and Timberland, also dropped after its profit and sales fell far short of analyst estimates. The stock dropped $3.12, or 5.1 percent, to $58.13.

DEERE DOWN: Agricultural equipment company Deere lowered its sales forecast for the year as sales of farm and construction remain weak. That canceled out first-quarter results that were better than analysts expected. Deere stock lost $3.17, or 3.9 percent, to $77.16.

NEED A DRINK: Boston Beer Co., the maker of Samuel Adams beer, fell after its sales disappointed investors. The stock gave up $9.56, or 5.2 percent, to $174.88.

TECH RISES: Chipmaking equipment company Applied Materials climbed after it reported stronger-than-expected profit and sales. Its stock climbed $1.37, or 8 percent, to $18.54.

Yahoo rose 55 cents, or 1.9 percent, after the internet company said it has created a committee of independent directors and hired advisers as part of an effort to redefine itself. Big shareholders are pushing Yahoo to sell its main Internet business. The company eliminated 15 percent of its staff earlier this month.

SIGNS OF INFLATION: The Labor Department said prices for consumer goods have risen 1.4 percent over the last year, a sign that the pace of inflation is picking up. Prices were unchanged in January, however. The combination of a strong dollar and cheaper oil has suppressed inflation across much of the economy.

OVERSEAS: France's CAC 40 was down 0.9 percent and Germany's DAX fell 1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.6 percent. Asian stocks were mixed, as Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 1.4 percent and South Korea's Kospi added 0.4 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.4 percent and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China inched down 0.1 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude sank $1.33, or 4.3 percent, to $29.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It had climbed 17 percent over the last week as investors hoped for a deal that would limit oil production. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down $1.17, or 3.4 percent, to $33.11 a barrel in London.

UK FOCUS: The British pound was slipping as the leaders of Britain and the rest of the 28-country European Union entered a second day of talks on how to reform the country's membership in the bloc. The talks are stalled over a series of issues, including immigration rights, leading some investors to become cautious, as a potential British exit from the bloc would to hurt the pound. The currency was down 0.5 percent at $1.4273.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged at 1.74 percent. The euro was little changed at $1.11 after it closed at $1.1094 Thursday. The dollar fell to 112.97 yen from 113.57 yen.

(KA)