The markets opened lower as investors continued to worry about high oil prices, weak corporate earnings and more home foreclosures. The Dow lost 84 points to 12,174 while Nasdaq dropped 12 points to 2245.
On the upside
Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT) signed a $1.9 billion deal to supply equipment to multiple solar factories to be constructed by the buyer.
Analysts raised their opinion on Barr Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: BRL) on expectations that the drug company can defend its patent for an oral contraceptive drug treatment.
Leapfrog Enterprises (NYSE: LF) posted a $101 million loss, but the results were smaller than expected which prompted at least one analyst upgrade.
On the downside
Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS) posted lower North American revenues and 4th quarter profits that fell while the world's largest office products supplier also reported gains in its overseas and delivered products businesses.
Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) was downgraded by analysts due to weak consumer demand for big-ticket items.
China-based Home Inns & Hotels Management (Nasdaq: HMIN) posted higher revenues and a net loss. Management attributed a lower occupancy rate due to the 40 new hotels that opened.
In the broad market, declining issues outpaced advancers by a margin of more than 2 to 1 on both the NYSE and Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks lost 4 points to 678.