April 17, 2008 at 10:50 AM EDT
Opening Bell Report

The markets opened lower as investors mulled over the latest batch of earnings news. The Dow lost 32 points to 12,587 while Nasdaq fell 13 points to 2336.

On the upside

IBM (NYSE: IBM) posted higher profits that beat expectations. Overseas revenues were strong while domestic results impressed analysts and investors who worried about the slowing U.S. economy.

Shares of Avant Immunotherapeutics (Nasdaq: AVAN) leaped on news that rights to its cancer vaccine was snapped up by Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) for $40 million and future milestone payments.

McMoRan Exploration (NYSE: MMR) returned to profitability due to strong performance from its deep drilling activities.

On the downside

Shares of Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER) fell after the world's largest brokerage posted a loss of $6 billion and announced plans to cut 4000 jobs.

Epicor Software (Nasdaq: EPIC) lowered its earnings outlook citing weak demand for its consulting services.

Polycom (Nasdaq: PLCM) posted higher profits, but revenues missed forecasts. Analysts promptly downgraded the communications equipment maker.

In the broad market, declining issues outpaced advancers by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 on both the NYSE and Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks lost 4 points to 709.

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