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Stocks slump on weak earnings reports

The atmosphere during the 90th lighting of the

The atmosphere during the 90th lighting of the New York Stock Exchange Christmas tree outside of the exchange Tuesday. (Dec. 10, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Disappointing earnings from a handful of U.S. companies Wednesday pushed the stock market to its biggest loss in five weeks.

Health care stocks had some of the biggest declines. Laboratory Corp. of America slumped after cutting its full-year earnings forecast. Quest Diagnostics, a major competitor, also dropped.

The broader market also fell. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.13 percent to 1,782.22, its biggest decline since Nov. 7. The index has fallen six out of eight days in December, leaving it down 1.3 percent for the month. Still, it's up 25 percent so far in 2013, on track for its biggest annual increase in a decade.

The market may be succumbing to "buyer's fatigue" after a big rally this year, said Chris Bertelsen, chief investment officer at Global Financial Private Capital.Investors also considered the impact of the latest budget deal in Washington, which will help lawmakers avoid the immediate threat of another government shutdown. The deal should allow investors to focus on the economy rather than politics.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 129.60 points to 15,843.53. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.40 percent to 4,003.81.

-- AP

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