Stocks fluctuate after earnings reports

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John Deere also raised its forecast for full-year earnings. It now expects to earn $2.7 billion this fiscal year, up from a May forecast of $2.65 billion. The maker of tractors and other heavy equipment said its profit rose 15 percent last quarter on strong demand for farm equipment.

Stocks have been particularly volatile in August. Worries rose as the U.S. government said it might default on its debt unless it was allowed to borrow more. The government just beat the deadline to avoid a default, but the partisanship in the debate came at a cost: Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating on Aug. 5 by one notch to AA+ from the top AAA rating. That triggered one of Wall Street’s wildest weeks: The Dow rose or fell by at least 400 points in each of the first four days of last week, the first time that has happened.

Markets appear to have calmed somewhat since then. Tuesday marked the first time since the Aug. 5 downgrade that the Dow rose or fell by less than 100 points. It fell 76 points on worries about Europe’s ability to contain its debt problems.

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