Stocks edge down at the start of big earnings week

NEW YORK - Stocks edged lower on Wall Street at the start of a big week for company earnings.

About a third of the companies in the S&P 500, including Exxon Mobil and Apple, are reporting earnings this week. Analysts currently expect earnings to rise by 2 percent in the first quarter, down from the 7.7 percent increase in the fourth quarter, according to S&P Capital IQ.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 52 points, or 0.3 percent, to 14,495 as of 10:13 a.m. EDT. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 4 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,551.

Hasbro, the maker of Transformers and My Little Pony, rose $1.35 to $46.36 even after it said that its first-quarter loss widened after heavy restructuring charges and foreign exchange rates flattened its international sales. The company's performance was still better than Wall Street had been expecting.

Oil services company Halliburton also gained after its loss wasn't as bad as analysts had forecast. Halliburton rose $1.48 to $46.43 after it said that it lost $18 million in the first quarter, pulled down by $637 million in charges related to its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Stocks are coming off a tough week.

Last week both the S&P 500 and the Dow lost 2.1 percent, the biggest weekly drops since last November.

News that economic growth had slowed in China set off a plunge in commodity prices last Monday, leading the stock market to its worst day of the year. Gold dropped below $1,400 an ounce for the first time in two years.

In other trading, the Nasdaq composite fell 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,201.

In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.69 percent from 1.71 percent late Friday as traders shifted money into lower-risk assets.

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