U.S. Stocks Give Back Some Election Day Gains As Economy In Focus

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) - U.S. stocks opened lower on Wednesday, stepping back from the largest Election Day gains in more than two decades, as investors looked beyond President-elect Barack Obama's historic win to the dismal state of the economy.

The potential for a deep U.S. recession and the worst global financial crisis since the Depression gives Obama little time to bask in the afterglow of his victory, economists said. .

"Yesterday's market action was in anticipation of an Obama victory - it looks like more of a landslide - now we're down to business and the market is going to wait until he talks about an economic plan," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 177.53 points to 9,447.75.

The S&P 500 Index declined 18.64 points to 987.11 and the Nasdaq Composite Index shed 29.76 points to 1,750.36.

The prior session's largest gainers proved the biggest laggards in early trade, with energy, materials and financial shares fronting the losses among the S&P's 10 industry groups.

In early economic data, the ADP index of private employment showed companies shed 157,000 jobs in October , with the report seen as a preview of sorts of Friday's non farm payrolls for the month. .

The U.S. dollar posted mild gains, with the dollar index , a measure of the greenback against a trade-weighted basket of six currencies, climbing to 84.79 from 84.533 in North American trade late Tuesday.

Crude fell, with oil futures for December delivery off $2.12 to $68.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. .

Wednesday's earnings had Time Warner Inc. reporting a third-quarter profit slide of 1.7%, with the New York media giant cutting its estimate of full-year earnings from continuing operations. The company's shares gains 2.1%. .

Overseas, European shares were on the decline, threatening to snap a six-session winning streak. .

By Kate Gibson