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NEW YORK – U.S. stock markets, including big media and entertainment stocks, closed lower on Tuesday amid Japan-related concerns, but the decline was less pronounced than early morning trends had suggested.
Big early drops saw U.S. stocks follow markets in Asia and Europe in a slump driven by fears over the human, nuclear and economic fallout from last week’s earthquake in Japan. But big media stocks and key stock indexes made up some ground to finish the day slightly lower. They were helped by comments by the Federal Reserve, which, among other things, reiterated its promise to keep short-term interest rates close to zero for an “extended period” and cited improving consumer spending and employment trends.
The broad-based S&P 500 stock index was down 2.1 percent as of 9:45am ET, but finished only 1.1 percent lower as of the end of the trading day, according to Bloomberg.
All 30 stocks of the Dow Jones Industrials index declined early in the day, with General Electric and Walt Disney among the biggest early decliners, pushing the index down more than 2 percent early in the day before it also closed down 1.1 percent. The Nasdaq was down as much as 3 percent and hit a three-month low in early trading before finishing 1.2 percent lower.
Among big entertainment stocks, News Corp.’s and CBS Corp.’s shares were down 3.9 percent each in early trading before narrowing their losses. News Corp. ended up the day at $17.25, down 2.8 percent, as CBS shares finished 1.9 percent lower at $23.15. Disney shed 1.5 percent, after early in the session being down 2.7 percent, $41.62.
Time Warner and Viacom were down 2.1 percent each in early trading, but ended up down 1.4 percent at $35.79 and 1.1 percent at $43.66, respectively.
Netflix was one of the rare gainers early in the day as the stock rose following an upgrade and bullish report from Goldman Sachs. The stock finished 7.9 percent higher at $217.11.
Meanwhile, Sony shares had once again fallen in trading in Japan.
Also on Tuesday, European stocks slumped the most in 10 months, according to Bloomberg, and Japan’s NIKKEI index posted a 10.6 percent drop – its third-largest decline ever.
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