Investors retreated yesterday, sending stocks moderately lower as existing-home sales slid and volatile oil prices intensified Wall Street's...
NEW YORK — Investors retreated yesterday, sending stocks moderately lower as existing-home sales slid and volatile oil prices intensified Wall Street’s summer malaise.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 50.31 to 10,519.58.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, slipped 4 cents to close at $26.87 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, fell 36 cents to $67.43.
Broader stock indicators were narrowly mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4.14 to 1,217.59, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 4.16 to 2,137.25.
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The market’s opening selloff continued after the National Association of Realtors said sales of previously owned homes dropped 2.6 percent in July as mortgage rates crept up. Even so, sales were the third-highest level on record.
The latest snapshot of housing activity suggested that the sizzling housing market may be cooling slightly. Investors have been closely watching home sales, worried that the housing boom is nearing its end. A contraction could hurt consumer spending, since a raft of home-equity loans has put cash in consumers’ pockets.
Still, in late-August trading, it doesn’t take much to bring stocks down. No major economic reports are due this week, most companies’ second-quarter earnings are out and many investors are on vacation, said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at Spencer Clarke.
“We’re not seeing a lot of conviction, either by buyers or sellers, so far this week,” Sheldon said. Of the 10 sectors in the Standard & Poor’s 500, only one, the materials sector, moved a shade more than 1 percent.
Traders also worried as oil prices first rose, then fell. The volatility did not please equity investors, who are concerned that higher gasoline prices are curbing consumer spending. Yesterday, a barrel of light crude settled at $65.71, up 6 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
“We started the year at $42-a-barrel oil — that was a concern, but we could get past it,” said David Sowerby, chief market analyst at Loomis, Sayles. “When we crossed $60, I don’t think anyone could question what $60 is going to do to retail sales.”