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American stocks fall ahead of earnings season kickoff

Jan. 09, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks closed lower Tuesday as traders awaited the start of the corporate earnings season.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 55.44 points, or 0.4 percent, to 13,328.85. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 4.74, or 0.3 percent, to 1,457.15. The Nasdaq composite index shed 7.01, or 0.2 percent, to 3,091.81.

Alcoa reported its fourth-quarter financial results after the market closed, marking the unofficial kickoff to weeks of earnings announcements from U.S. companies. The aluminum maker said its revenue results exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts, while per-share earnings were roughly in line with expectations. Alcoa rose 20 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $9.30 in late trading.

Alcoa is traditionally the first of the 30 companies in the Dow average to report earnings.

Market-watchers expect the quarter's results could include many surprises because of events like Superstorm Sandy, the presidential election, and the narrowly avoided tax increases and spending cuts known collectively as the "fiscal cliff."

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