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Stocks Dip Slightly as the Start of Earnings Season Nears

Updated from 9:46 a.m. EST

Stocks in New York opened in neutral as President Bush delivered his last press conference as commander in chief, and investors braced for the kickoff of fourth-quarter earnings reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was losing 51 points at 8547, and the S&P 500 was off by 8 points at 881. The Nasdaq was down 10 points at 1560.

The most recent jobs data and news of more layoffs across industries weighed on stocks Friday. For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 4.8%; the S&P gave up 4.4%; and the Nasdaq retreated 3.7%.

But this week investors will focus on earnings as the first batch of fourth-quarter reports dribble in, starting with Alcoa (AA) after Monday's market close.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are expecting Alcoa to report a loss of 10 cents a share.

Chevron (CVX), Wal-Mart (WMT) and Intel (INTC) tempered expectations last week, shaking investor confidence. And Alcoa and Boeing (BA) announced they would cut thousands of workers in an effort to better handle the economic downturn.

Shares of UBS (UBS) were in retreat early Monday on reports that the bank will announce record full-year losses next month.

Late Friday afternoon, Citigroup (C) announced that Robert Rubin , senior counsel and a director at the bank, was resigning. The former Treasury Secretary has come under fire over the past two months for his role in encouraging the New York bank's foray into toxic debt that has laid waste to its balance sheet.

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