Why U.S. stocks slump on GE?

Lackluster earnings from Dow Jones industrials General Electric Co. and Citigroup Co. sent stocks lower Friday as rising energy prices compounded the market's worries. With little economic data available to guide investors, quarterly profit reports dominated the session. Although Motorola Inc.'s newest cell phone helped double its earnings last quarter, traders were disappointed by a tempered outlook.

Iran's nuclear arms dispute and new threats of terrorist attacks on the United States weighed on the energy market. A barrel of light crude rose 56 cents to $67.75 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In the first hour of trading, the Dow declined 41.08, or 0.38 percent, to 10,839.63.

Broader stock indicators also fell. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 2.27, or 0.18 percent, at 1,282.77, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 3.62, or 0.16 percent, to 2,298.19. Bonds rebounded, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note sliding to 4.35 percent from 4.37 percent late Thursday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies in European trading, while gold prices advanced.

GE said its fourth-quarter profit tumbled 46 percent after absorbing nearly $3 billion (Ђ2.5 billion) of losses from selling most of its insurance business. Excluding items, the results matched Wall Street estimates but failed to inspire investors. GE sank 58 cents to $34.10.

Meanwhile, Citigroup's earnings jumped 30 percent from strength in its overseas operations and a gain on the sale of its asset-management unit. However, its adjusted profit before one-time items was slightly weaker than forecast, sending shares down 85 cents to $47.09.

Supermarket chain Albertson's Inc. said it received a revised buyout offer from a consortium that includes Supervalu Inc., but would not say how much the deal was worth. The Wall Street Journal reported the group raised its bid just above a previous $9.6 billion advance that fell through last month. Albertson's rose 41 cents to $24.28 while Supervalu dropped 13 cents to $32.06. Tech investors punished Motorola shares despite upbeat its quarterly results. Motorola sank $1.27 to $23.08, reports the AP. N.U.

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