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Dow Ends Down Almost 300 on Economy, Earnings Worries

Investors handed stocks sharp losses on Tuesday after data on long-lasting durable goods showed business spending plans fell for a fourth straight month in December. The report from the Commerce Department said orders for business equipment declined 3.4 percent, which raised concerns that the drop in oil prices and the sluggish global economy were beginning to have an impact at home.

Some companies, such as Microsoft and Caterpillar, also reported quarterly earnings that disappointed investors. The blizzard that hit the Northeastern U.S. appeared to have little impact on trading or sentiment.

After dropping nearly 400 points to a four-week low, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 291.49 points, or 1.65 percent, at 17,387.21. The S&P 500 dropped 27.53 points, or 1.34 percent, to 2,0429.56.The Nasdaq shed 90.27 points, or 1.89 percent, to 4,681.50.

Why stocks are selling off: Cashin 2:47

IN-DEPTH

-- NBC News staff, CNBC and Reuters