Stocks Close Lower Despite Another Round of Strong Earnings Reports

However, the airline sector surged.
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After closing at all-time highs Friday, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

, the

S&P 500

and the

Nasdaq Composite Index

took a break and fell today, while airline stocks surged thanks to some better-than-anticipated earnings reports.

Delta Air Lines

(DAL) - Get Report

,

Continental Airlines

(CAL) - Get Report

and

Alaska Air Group

(ALK) - Get Report

all posted earnings that exceeded Wall Street expectations. The

American Stock Exchange Airline Index

jumped 3.4%. Airline issues helped lift the

Dow Jones Transportation Average

, which advanced 1.8%.

The decline in the market came despite another round of strong corporate profit reports.

On the

New York Stock Exchange

, decliners beat advancers 1,733 to 1,175 on 640.3 million shares. On the

Nasdaq Stock Market

, losers beat winners 2,217 to 1,783 on 935.1 million shares.

On the NYSE, 86 issues set new 52-week highs while 33 touched new lows. On the Nasdaq, 190 issues set new 52-week highs while new lows totaled 41.

On the Big Board,

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

was most active, with 14.8 million shares changing hands. It was up 1/8 to 49 1/8. The financial services titan posted second-quarter earnings of 71 cents a share, beating the

First Call

22-analyst estimate of 65 cents and up from the year-ago 57 cents.

On the Nasdaq,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

was most active, with 39.6 million shares changing hands. Microsoft was down 1 1/8 to 98 3/8. The company is expected to report earnings today after the close. The First Call 26-analyst estimate is projecting earnings of 36 cents a share.

Market data above are preliminary. Updated numbers and analysis will follow in the Market Roundup

Earlier...

2:59 p.m.: Nasdaq, S&P 500 Lead Stocks Lower

Major market barometers hobbled into the final hour of trading, with the biggest losses being endured by the

Nasdaq Composite Index

and the

S&P 500

, while the airline sector was enjoying a hefty advance.

1:50 p.m.: Stocks Down in Broad Slump

Stocks remained mired in the red this afternoon in a broadbased market slump, while airline stocks were solidly higher.

1:09 p.m.: Midday Musings: Earnings 'Logic' Can't Aid Indices

11:52 a.m.: Stocks Slump Toward Session Lows

Major market averages slumped to around their session lows late this morning, after opening the session slightly higher, while earnings news so far has been decidedly positive.

10:53 a.m.: Stocks Slip Into the Red

Major market gauges were taking a breather this morning as earnings news has dominated the market's attention so far today.

9:54 a.m.: Stocks Open Mostly in the Black

Major market averages were slightly higher in the early going as market players digested a host of earnings reports, which overall have come in better than expected.