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US stocks slide on US, Greece concerns

US stocks closed lower Tuesday as worries about Greece's debt crisis and the US "fiscal cliff" took the shine off strong quarterly results from home-improvement giant Home Depot.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 58.90 points (0.46 percent) to 12,756.18.

The broad-market S&P 500 shed 5.50 (0.40 percent) at 1,374.53, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite fell 20.37 (0.70 percent) to 2,883.89.

After opening lower, stocks clawed back into positive territory but were unable to stay there.

"Gains incurred from upbeat comments about the housing recovery from Dow component Home Depot dissipated in late-day action as the continued anxiety over the looming fiscal cliff and eurozone uncertainty appeared too much for investors to overcome," Charles Schwab & Co. analysts said.

Congress came back from recess Tuesday with the "fiscal cliff" at the top of the agenda. The dramatic spending cuts and tax increases are mandated to take effect beginning in January if US politicians cannot find a compromise on deficit reduction to avoid them.

Continued delays in providing Greece with the bailout funds it needs to avoid default also kept investors on edge.

Home Depot was the strongest gainer on the blue-chip index, jumping 3.6 percent after reporting earnings that beat Wall Street estimates and raising its full-year guidance.

"Our third-quarter results were better than we expected and reflected, in part, what we believe is the start of the path toward the healing of the housing market," said Frank Blake, chairman and chief executive.

Microsoft was the steepest Dow loser, down 3.2 percent. The software maker announced the departure of Steven Sinofsky, head of its Windows unit, just weeks after the launch of the Windows 8 operating system.

In the luxury sector, Michael Kors Holdings rose 0.9 percent after posting better-than-expected earnings for the second quarter, while department store chain Saks climbed 0.4 percent after disappointing results.

Printer and copier maker Xerox rose 1.4 percent after lowering its profit forecast for the fourth quarter and saying it planned to increase its dividend by 34 percent next year.

Apple was unchanged at $542.90, after losing more than $150 since late September.

The bond market, which was closed Monday for a federal holiday, rallied. The 10-year US Treasury yield fell to 1.59 percent from 1.61 percent late Friday, and the 30-year dropped to 2.72 percent from 2.75 percent.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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