Stocks fall in early trading on weak earnings

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By Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The earnings rally of the last two weeks has finally lost some luster. The parade of stronger-than-expected reports slowed Tuesday after several companies reported weak earnings.

Pfizer Inc., Clorox Co., Molson Coors Brewing Co. and Beazer Homes USA Inc. all fell after releasing results. Pfizer's shares slid 2 percent after the company reduced its revenue forecast for 2011. It fell the most out of all 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones industrial average.

Clorox and Molson Coors each fell about 4 percent after they reported lower net income than the same period last year. The consumer goods maker and beverage company both blamed higher costs for raw materials for the decline.

Beazer Homes slipped 2 percent. The homebuilder reported a larger-than-expected loss because orders for new homes fell, reflecting continued weakness in the housing industry.

Avon Products Inc. — buoyed by growth in Latin America — had some of the biggest gains in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, rising 6 percent. The cosmetics company said its earnings more than tripled.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,825 in early trading.

The S&P 500 fell a point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,360. The Nasdaq composite index fell 4, or 0.2 percent, to 2,860.

Randy Bateman, chief investment officer and president of Huntington Asset Advisors, said some kind of weakness was natural following a mostly positive earnings season. About 65 percent of companies in the S&P 500 have reported their results, and earnings are up about 21 percent from the same period last year, according to FactSet.

""We've had such a strong, hard run for the entirety of the year in the face of an awful lot of adversity," Bateman said. "Investors are going to sit back a little bit and say, 'How much more good news is out there?'"

Bond prices rose, pushing yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.27 percent from 3.28 percent late Monday.

The government reported that factory orders rose for the fifth consecutive month in March as businesses ordered more large manufactured goods. That was expected by economists.

Later in the day, the nation's automakers are expected to report that U.S. sales of cars and trucks rose 19 percent in April. Americans likely more bought cars during the month because of fears that the earthquake in Japan would lead to shortages.