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Stocks fall on grim Caterpillar outlook

Stocks were tugged lower Wednesday by a grim earnings report from the world's largest construction equipment company. That makes two consecutive days of losses for stocks, the first time that's happened all month. 

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Traders await the IPO of Jones Energy on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday. A weak earnings report from Caterpillar tugged at stocks, marking two consecutive days of losses.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

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A gloomy outlook from Caterpillar, the world's largest construction equipment company, tugged the stock market lower Wednesday.

The meager drop gave the stock market two consecutive days of losses, the first time that's happened all month.

Caterpillar's earnings fell 43 percent in the second quarter as China's economy slowed and commodity prices sank. The company also warned of slowing revenue and profit, and its stock dropped $2.08, or 2 percent, to $83.44.

Slight losses spread across a wide variety of companies, with nine of 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor's 500 index ending lower.

The holdouts were technology companies, which got a lift from Apple's surgingstock. Despite reporting lower quarterly earnings Tuesday, the maker of tablets, smartphones and computers still managed to beat analysts' estimates, thanks to rising shipments of iPhones. Apple jumped $21.52, or 5 percent, to $440.51.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 25.50 points, or 0.2 percent, at 15,542.24.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.45 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,685.94. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index edged up 0.33 of a point, or less than 0.1 percent, to 3,579.60.

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