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Updated from 4:15 p.m. EST

Stocks took a beating Tuesday as investors couldn't shake corporate accounting jitters, and solid earnings from


(WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report

failed to lure buyers.


Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 159 points, or 1.6%, to 9744. The

Nasdaq closed down 55 points, or 3%, to 1750, and the

S&P 500 lost 21 points, or 1.9%, at 1083.

Among the companies stoking the accounting fires Tuesday were


(IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report

, which pledged more clarity in its financial statements;


(NVDA) - Get NVIDIA Corporation Report

, which disclosed a

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TheStreet Recommends

Securities and Exchange Commission

probe last week; and

Pharmaceutical Resources


, which said it would restate its results back to 1998 on the SEC's advice. IBM and Nvidia ended lower, but Pharmaceutical Resources tacked on a modest gain.

Long weekends often yield merger news, and the Presidents Day holiday in the U.S. was no exception. Optical-networking company


(CIEN) - Get Ciena Corporation Report

set plans to acquire rival

ONI Systems


in a $900 million all-stock deal as it attempts to gain market share. Ciena finished off 28 cents to $8.45, while ONI was added 8.2% to $5.94.

Wal-Mart was under pressure after the company

posted a fourth-quarter profit of $2.19 billion, or 49 cents a share, meeting analysts' forecasts. The company earned $2 billion, or 45 cents a share, last year. Sales for the quarter rose 13.5% to $64.21 billion, with

same-store sales rising nearly 7%. Wal-Mart expects same-store sales to rise 5% to 7% in the first quarter and said that fiscal 2003 earnings would meet or slightly exceed current projections. The company's shares lost 74 cents to $59.29.

In the financial services sector,

J.P. Morgan Chase

(JPM) - Get JP Morgan Chase & Co. Report

traded down $1.02, or 3.4%, to $29.03. On Friday, a lawsuit was filed alleging the investment bank didn't fully disclose its exposure to bankrupt energy trader


. Moody's reaffirmed its ratings on J.P. Morgan in response to numerous inquiries into the company's credit status.


soared after the company received

a $23-a-share buyout bid from majority owner

Sabre Holdings

(TSG) - Get Stars Group Inc Report

. Sabre holds a 70% stake in the online travel agency. Following the announcement, shares of Travelocity jumped nearly 30% to close well above the tender price at $24.91.

Consumer electronics retailer

Circuit City

(CC) - Get Chemours Company (The) Report

saw its shares plummet $4.29, or 16.3%, to $22.11 after an analyst said the company's remodeling initiative could cost more than forecast. Others speculated the company was under pressure because of negative perceptions about credit card security.


(UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings Inc. Report

, the parent company of United Airlines, was climbing after the company said it reached a tentative agreement with the mechanics union, averting a potential strike. Shares traded up $1.59, or 14%, to close at $12.95


(AES) - Get The AES Corporation Report

was one of the day's biggest losers, falling 32.1% to $4.75, following the company's decision to fully contract or divest its merchant generation business, which is expected to bring in $1 billion.

Analysts at Credit Suisse First Boston downgraded


(BA) - Get The Boeing Company Report

to a buy rating from a strong buy, citing the stock's valuation. The firm maintained its $50 price target on the airplane manufacturer. Elsewhere, J.P. Morgan raised its rating on

Comverse Technology


to buy from long-term buy.

The economic calendar was almost empty, but before the bell, the Census Bureau said

housing starts rose to an annualized rate of 1.678 million units in January, topping the consensus estimate of 1.595 million. Building permits increased to 1.706 million, higher than the 1.600 million forecast.

U.S. Treasury issues were lower, with the 10-year note down 4/32 to 100, yielding 4.87%.

Overseas stocks were lower, with London's FTSE 100 down 1.2% to 5093 and Germany's Xetra Dax off 2.2% at 4764. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed down 2.4% to 9847. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.5% to 10,840.