NEW YORK — US stocks fell in morning trade Tuesday after the IMF cut global economic growth forecasts and investors braced for the start of a poor third-quarter earnings season.
The International Monetary Fund's gloomier outlook for 2012 and 2013 global growth came a day after the World Bank slashed its growth estimates for developing countries in East Asia and the Pacific.
"Markets are searching for direction as investors exercise caution following a discouraging global growth forecast from the IMF," Wells Fargo Advisors analysts said.
The main indices opened lower and were still in the red after 40 minutes of trade.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 10.02 points, or 0.07 percent, at 13,573.63 by 1410 GMT.
The S&P 500 slipped 2.48 (0.17 percent) to 1,453.40 and the tech-rich Nasdaq fell 20.08 (0.65 percent) to 3,092.26.
Investors expect a weak third-quarter earnings season that unofficially kicks off with Dow member Alcoa after the closing bell. Shares in the aluminum giant were up 1.0 percent on the blue-chip index.
"So far, there have been a lot more companies that have pre-announced/guided lower-than-expected numbers, versus those with upside surprises," said Bryan Sapp, an equities analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research.
The biggest Dow laggards were Intel, down 1.7 percent a day after Barclays downgraded the chip maker, and Johnson & Johnson, off 1.2 percent following a Morgan Stanley downgrade.
In merger and acquisition news, tool and hardware maker Stanley Black & Decker edged up 0.1 percent after announcing the sale of its hardware and home improvement business to Spectrum Brands Holdings for $1.4 billion. Spectrum soared 11.8 percent.
On Monday, stocks finished in the red in listless trade amid concern about growth in Asia and Europe. The Dow fell 0.19 percent and the Nasdaq shed 0.76 percent.
US bond prices climbed as investors sought Treasuries as a safe haven, driving yields lower.
The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.72 percent from 1.73 percent Friday, while the 30-year yield dropped to 2.95 percent from 2.97 percent. The US bond market was closed Monday for a public holiday.
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