Economy

Stocks ease in early trade as earnings disappoint

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are slightly lower in early trading after several U.S. companies reported earnings that disappointed investors.

J.M. Smucker and V.F. Corporation both fell early Friday after announcing earnings that fell short of analysts' forecasts. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,827 in the first few minutes of trading.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 31 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,996. The Nasdaq composite declined nine points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,231. Men's Wearhouse sank 7 percent after rival Jos. A. Bank Clothiers said it would buy the parent company of Eddie Bauer. Men's Wearhouse had been pursuing Jos. A. Bank.

Investors were also disappointed by a steep drop in U.S. factory output in January.

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