Stocks declined today as poor earnings reports made investors bearish, the Wall Street Journal reports. Although news of the Fannie/Freddie plan to speed refinancing efforts for distressed homeowners checked midday losses, the Dow dropped 176.58 to close at 8,693.96. The Nasdaq dropped 35.84, settling at 1,580.90, and the S&P 500 fell 20.26 to close at 898.95.
News of declining earnings from Toll Brothers and Starbucks pointed to slack consumer spending. Several big names in life insurance, including Lincoln National and Prudential Financial, saw declines after a Goldman Sachs report noted that the sale of fixed annuities would sap the insurers’ capital over the next 18 months.