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Stocks slip, burdened by food companies Dow industrials lose 9.40 points,closing at 4,784.38


NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks fell yesterday as a third-quarter earnings report from CPC International Inc. disappointed investors and weighed on shares of other food companies.

CPC International, maker of Hellman's mayonnaise and Skippy peanut butter, said earnings rose 13 percent, in line with Wall Street's expectation. That wasn't enough to impress investors.

An early round of computer-guided orders to sell stocks helped push the Dow Jones industrial average down 9.40, to 4,784.38. ** Procter & Gamble Co., Walt Disney Co. and J.P. Morgan & Co. were the biggest losers.

CPC shares closed down 50 cents, at $69, after dropping $1.50 earlier. Among other food companies that dropped, Procter & Gamble slipped 87.5 cents, to $79.375; Kellogg Co. fell $1.50, to $72.625; and Unilever NV American depositary receipts weakened $1.375, to $128.875.

Some 1,203 shares declined and 1,042 shares rose on the New York Stock Exchange. And about 300 million shares changed hands, down 75.5 million from Friday's volume.

The Russell 2000 index of small companies eked out a 0.13 gain, to 302.2. The Wilshire 5000 index dropped 11.96, to 5,773.14, and the American Stock Exchange market value index fell 0.62, to 534.77.

Losses in shares of Kmart Corp. weighed on other retail stocks. Shares of the Troy, Mich.-based company -- the most actively traded on U.S. exchanges -- dropped 87.5 cents, to $10.50, yesterday amid concern the retailer is taking too long turning around its ailing discount stores and may have to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Sluggish consumer spending has stunted earnings growth for many retailers this year and checked share prices. The Standard & Poor's retail stores index has advanced 12 percent this year, less than half the 27 percent gain by the overall S&P; 500.

Yesterday, the S&P; 500 Index, representing about 74 percent of the value of all stocks in the United States, fell 1.47, to 583.03, as telecommunications, financial and retail issues slipped.

The technology-laden Nasdaq composite index slid 0.24, to 1,018.13, after advancing 3.08, to 1,021.45.

Cirrus Logic Inc.'s $5.625 drop, to $40.25, led the tech group's decline. The Fremont, Calif.-based company's shares fell after a Cowen & Co. analyst downgraded the stock to "buy" from "strong buy" because of falling prices for some of the company's chips.

After the close, Intel Corp., the world's biggest chip maker, said it earned $1.05 a share for the quarter ended Sept. 30, in line with analysts' expectations. Intel shares climbed 37.5 cents, to $63.125.

Sun Microsystems Inc.'s shares have been halted from trading on the third-market. The computer company said it earned 85 cents a share, exceeding analysts' consensus estimate of 65 cents, according to IBES International Inc. Sun Microsystems shares rose $2.6875, to $59.9375.

Microsoft Corp., International Business Machines Corp., Digital Equipment Corp. and Apple Computer Inc. will announce their latest results later this week.

One bright spot was a spate of strong third-quarter results from Travelers Group Inc., Bank of New York Co., First Chicago Corp. and NationsBank Corp.

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