New York — NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are falling in midday trading Tuesday as investors await corporate earnings reports this week. Tech and small companies fell sharply. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped below 17,000 for the first time since crossing that threshold last week on news that employers have been hiring more.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow fell 131 points, or 0.8 percent, to 16,892 as of 12:25 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 16 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,961. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 74 points, or 1.7 percent, to 4,377. Two tech stars, Facebook and Netflix, fell 4 percent each.
Investors sought out defensive stocks. Utilities rose 0.6 percent, one of just two sectors of the 10 in the S&P 500 that rose. Telecommunications stocks fell the most, 1.3 percent. The Russell 2000, which tracks small-company stocks, fell 19 points, or 1.6 percent, to 1,168.
LOSING ALTITUDE: Airline stocks fell sharply a day after drops triggered by worries over falling demand due to new security rules on some international flights. Delta Air Lines fell $1.40, or nearly 4 percent, to $35.50.
EARNINGS WATCH: Investors are watching second-quarter earnings reports for clues about the strength of the U.S. economy. The reports begin in earnest when Alcoa reports its quarterly results after the U.S. stock market closes Tuesday. Wells Fargo, the No. 1 home mortgage lender in the U.S., reports Friday.
Financial analysts expect earnings per share for the S&P 500 to have risen 6.5 percent from a year earlier, according to S&P Capital IQ, a research firm. That is about double the increase in the first quarter. They expect earnings growth to accelerate for the rest of the year, topping 11 percent in the fourth quarter.
DEAL SWEETENER: Drugmaker AbbVie fell $1.88, or 3.3 percent, to $55.52 after news that it raised its offer to buy another drug company, Shire. The target, known for its rare-disease drugs, has rejected three AbbVie offers.