Increasing Loan Losses Weigh Down Markets

Concerns about increasing loan losses sent the markets sharply lower during the midday with the Dow plummeting 161 points to 8039. Nasdaq plunged 23 points to 1467.

On the upside

As part of a restructuring plan, Ecolab (NYSE: ECL) will eliminate 1,000 jobs but the company reaffirmed its 2008 earnings outlook.

American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO) announced the selection of Roger Markfield to the new position of vice chairman and executive creative director.

Clarcor (NYSE: CLC) reported higher fourth quarter earnings and revenue that topped analyst estimates.

On the downside

Nasdaq may delist ArthroCare (Nasdaq: ARTC) on Friday because the medical products company is delinquent in its quarterly filings.

Marshall & Ilsley (NYSE: MI) swung to a fourth quarter loss due to higher loan-loss provisions.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (Nasdaq: RRGB) will not advertise on national cable during 2009 prompting an analyst downgrade.

In the broad market, declining issues outpaced advancers by a margin of nearly 7 to 1 on the NYSE and by more than 3 to 1 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks plunged 13 points to 441.
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