Street retreats as investors weigh earnings

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NEW YORK -- Wall Street pulled back sharply Tuesday as investors dealt with disappointing earnings reports and renewed concerns about the mortgage lending market. The Dow Jones industrials fell more than 200 points.

DuPont Co. was the Dow's biggest loser after the chemical maker reported its second-quarter profit growth was flat, as improving sales abroad balanced the ongoing weakness in the U.S. housing and automotive markets. Fellow Dow component American Express Co. said late Monday its quarterly profit climbed 12% on record card member spending. However, the nation's third-largest credit card brand said cardholders are also shirking more payments.

Tuesday's retreat was not surprising considering that the market's move into record territory came before profit reports were released in earnest. Many investors bet that reports would be more upbeat than they have turned out to be. In addition, a profit warning from mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. Tuesday reminded investors that troubles in the subprime market persist.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow gave up 223.30, or 1.60%, to 13,720.12.

Broader stock indicators also suffered steep declines. The Standard & Poor's 500 index shed 30.28, or 1.96%, to 1,511.29. The Nasdaq composite index lost 50.72, or 1.89%,closing at 2,639.86.
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