Disappointing outlooks for companies like Caterpillar, Microsoft, drive stocks lower

U.S. stocks are closing lower after disappointing outlooks from Caterpillar and Microsoft raised worries about future profit growth at companies.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 291 points, or 1.7 per cent, to close at 17,387 Tuesday. The blue-chip average dropped as much as 390 points earlier. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 27 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 2,029. The Nasdaq composite tumbled 90 points, or 1.9 per cent, to 4,681.

Microsoft shares slid 9 per cent, the biggest fall among S&P 500 stocks. The company noted in its quarterly results that licensing revenue for Windows fell, and it warned that a strong dollar will dent revenue.

Caterpillar’s stock fell 7 per cent after the heavy equipment maker was hurt in the fourth quarter by restructuring costs, and issued a weak outlook.