Stocks fall sharply as optimism about recovery shrivels

Stocks plummeted today as investors worried that companies' second-quarter results, which start trickling out tomorrow, won't be strong enough to justify the big run-up in the equity markets since they bottomed out in March. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 161 points, or 1.9 percent, to close at 8,164, as just four of its 30 component stocks advanced.

Energy prices tumbled, too. Traders are worried that businesses will cut back on output and investment, further hobbling any potential recovery. General Electric (GE), Du Pont (DD) and Caterpillar (CAT) led the DJIA downward.

For more on stocks making moves today, be sure to check out BloggingStocks' market wrap-up.

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