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Overnight Markets: Wall Street ends flat as earnings offset Europe concerns

Overnight Markets: Wall Street ends flat as earnings offset Europe concerns

Wall Street closed mostly flat on Wednesday as concern over Europe’s debt crisis ahead of a meeting of euro zone leaders today offset better-than-estimated earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up seven points, or 0.05%, at 13,987. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up one point at 1,512. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down three points at 3,168.

Shares slumped earlier in the day amid concerns Europe’s debt crisis may worsen. Investors have been speculating about leadership changes in Spain and Italy and looking forward to comments from European leaders. European Central Bank policymakers are due to meet today.

Transportation and technology were the worst performers. CH Robinson Worldwide plunged 9.7% after the freight transport company posted a lower-than-expected adjusted quarterly profit.

On the other hand, Time Warner Inc jumped 4.1% after reporting higher fourth-quarter profit that beat Wall Street estimates. Amazon.com lost 1.7%, leading the decline on the Nasdaq.

Walt Disney Co's shares were up 0.4%, after the company beat estimates for quarterly adjusted earnings and gave an optimistic outlook for the next few quarters.

GameStop Corp. plunged 6% after a report said Microsoft Corp.’s next Xbox console will require an Internet connection.

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. fell 3.9% after the company pulled one movie from its schedule and delayed the release of another.

Ralph Lauren Corp. surged 5.9% after the retailer of its namesake brand clothing reported fiscal third- quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates.

3M Co. also jumped 1.2% as the maker of products ranging from Scotch tape to dental braces authorised a stock buyback programme of as much as $7.5 billion and increased the quarterly dividend by 7.6%.

In Asia, shared declined on Thursday as Nikon Corp. and News Corp. slashed profit estimates and Chinese shares retreated.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid less than 0.1% to 133 as of 11:30 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.8%, retreating from yesterday’s highest closing level September 2008. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index reversed an earlier decline, rising 0.3%, after the nation’s employers boosted payrolls more than economists forecast in January.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.2%, while China’s Shanghai Composite and Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 0.5%. South Korea’s Kospi Index was little changed.

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