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The Markets Now: Weak Economic News and Poor J&J Earnings Drag Down Stocks

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Investors await earnings reports from Apple and Google.

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After tepid economic news and a dim earnings outlook from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), stocks inched down, with few big gainers.

Economic news was weak with existing home sales and the Chicago Fed National Activity Index falling short of expectations. Existing home sales for December, reported by the National Association of Realtors, fell 1.0% last month to 4.94 million units.

The nation's inventory of existing homes tanked 8.5% from November. The Chicago Fed National Activity Index reading of 0.02 was just high enough to maintain cautious optimism, but it was not nearly as high as November's revised 0.27.

The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) fell 10 points to 13638.85, down 0.08%. The Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) declined to 2123.32, down 0.36%, and the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) fell 0.19% to 1483.19%.

Verizon (NYSE:VZ) missed earnings estimates, with its fourth-quarter earnings falling to $0.45 per share. Shares rose 0.78% to $42.87.

The Travelers Companies (NYSE:TRV) reported dismal fourth-quarter earnings of $0.72 per share as Hurricane Sandy ate into profits. In contrast, last year's fourth-quarter earnings were $1.51 per share. The stock is faring well, however, at $78.26, up 2.54%.

The examination of Boeing's (NYSE:BA) 787 plane batteries continued to affect its stock today, bringing it down 1.40% to $73.99.

American chemical company DuPont Co. (NYSE:DD) posted low fourth-quarter earnings at $.12 per share compared to $.40 per share a year ago, after recording flat sales. Its shares are up 0.98% at $47.45.

Johnson & Johnson reported fourth-quarter sales that exceeded expectations, at $1.19 per share, and lowered its earnings outlook for 2013 to $5.35 to $5.45 per share. The stock edged down 0.82% to $72.63.

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) discovered accounting misconduct at an acquired company last Friday and removed staff involved with the misconduct, reported the Associated Press. The stock fell to $96.31, down 1.35%.

TD Ameritrade's (NYSE:AMTD) fiscal first-quarter earnings suffered a loss of 3.3%, with earnings per share of $0.27. Analysts expected earnings per share of $0.24. Shares are up 3.14% at $19.03.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is up 0.29% at $17.16 in the midst of its controversial acquisition of the UK software company, Autonomy.

Tomorrow Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL),will release its much anticipated earnings report. Analysts expects earnings per share to come in at $7.22. Shares declined 0.44% to $497.95.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is back up to $30.68, up 3.47%, a rebound after falling to the $29 level last week.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is down 1.20% to $696.28 as investors await its earnings report after the close. The tech giant's third-quarter earnings report disappointed investors.

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) surged to $17.19, up 8.52%, after CEO Thorsten Heins suggested to a German newspaper that the company might sell its mobile phone business. Scotia Capital upgraded the stock from perform to outperform.

Commodities futures moved up with gold increasing 1.0 to 1691.8 and crude oil inching up 0.35 to 95.85.
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