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Stocks continue to fall


Stocks continued their downward trend this morning as concerns about banks’ balance sheets resurfaced and fears of poor first-quarter earnings reports increased, the Associated Press reported.

As of 10:41 a.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 165.11 points to 7,810.74. Yesterday, it closed down slightly at 7,975.85. In early trading today, the Nasdaq composite index was down 30.02 points to 1,576.69 and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 14.16 points to 821.32.

A report from the International Monetary Fund is expected to forecast that banks have $4 trillion in toxic assets, a sign that government efforts to relieve banks of bad loans might not work. Yesterday the Treasury Department delayed a program designed to help banks unload troubled loans from their books, and a well-known analyst said losses at banks would likely exceed Depression-era levels.

Meanwhile, the first wave of first-quarter earnings reports will begin today when Alcoa Inc. releases its report after U.S. markets close. It is expected to report a loss.

The downturn in the markets comes after major indexes had rallied more than 20 percent from 12-year lows in early March. Stocks could continue their downward trend if earnings reports are worse than expected.

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