Stocks slide as corporate earnings season nears

NEW YORK (AP) — Edgy investors sent stocks lower Monday on Wall Street ahead of U.S. corporate earnings reports and amid more signs of instability in Europe.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 36.18 points at 12,736.29. It was the Dow’s third straight day of declines.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2.22 points to 1,352.46 and the Nasdaq composite index fell 5.56 points to 2,931.77. Health care stocks rose the most, while stocks of materials companies fell the most.

Alcoa, one of the 30 Dow stocks, was the first major U.S. company to report second-quarter results after the market closed Monday.

The aluminum manufacturer beat the earnings per share estimates of Wall Street analysts by a penny, although revenue dropped due to weaker prices.

Alcoa’s results are often seen as a harbinger for other major companies. So far, investor expectations are low.

Wall Street forecasts a 1 percent decline in second-quarter earnings of S&P 500 companies compared with last year, according to Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ. That would be the first decline since the third quarter of 2009.

Investors were also spooked Monday by news from Europe, where Spain’s borrowing costs rose as finance ministers from the euro countries gathered in Brussels to finalize a rescue package.

Visa and MasterCard fell after an analyst recommended investors sell those stocks because of the global economic slowdown.

MasterCard fell $10.36 to $431.27, while Visa fell $1.63 to $123.65.

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