After ending the previous session mostly lower, stocks saw some further downside during trading on Tuesday. The major averages all ended the day firmly in negative territory, pulling back further off their recent highs, as traders continued to do some profit taking.

The continued weakness in the markets came as traders expressed some anxiety about the upcoming earning season and stocks' ability to sustain the recent upward move in light of expectations of weak quarterly results.

Dow component Alcoa (AA) is scheduled to release its first quarter results after the close of trading, with the release of results from the aluminum producer seen as the unofficial start of the earnings reporting season.

Alcoa has said its first quarter results would continue to be negatively affected by the troubled global economic environment that has adversely affected pricing and demand for aluminum, alumina, and aluminum products.

However, with most companies expected to report disappointing first quarter results due to the weakness in the economy, the guidance provided by the companies is likely to have a more significant impact on the markets.

The major averages all posted steep losses on the day, with the Dow closing down 186.29 points or 2.3 percent at 7,789.56, while the Nasdaq closed down 45.10 points or 2.8 percent at 1,561.61 and the S&P 500 closed down 19.93 points or 2.4 percent at 815.55.

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