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US STOCKS-Wall St slips as weak data sparks selling
October 20, 2009 / 7:04 PM / 8 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St slips as weak data sparks selling

* Weak housing figures disappoint

* Commodity index falls after six sessions up

* Caterpillar, Apple rise on solid earnings

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click [STXNEWS/US] (Recasts, changes byline)

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, Oct 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks retreated on Tuesday, marking the third pullback in 12 sessions, as disappointing housing and inflation data prompted investors to book recent gains despite strong results from bellwethers, including Apple and Caterpillar.

New construction of U.S. homes rose less than expected in September and U.S. producer prices posted an unexpected decline, both pointing to an anemic economic recovery. For details, see [ID:nN20424995]

Shares of companies in the materials sector declined as commodity prices fell. The Reuters/Jefferies CRB commodity index .CRB was off for the first time in seven sessions. Crude oil futures CLc1 slipped as well, and energy shares declined.

Shares of home builders also fell, with the Dow Jones home construction index .DJUSHB down 2 percent.

“The market is trying to absorb all the earnings news and see where the economy stands. The market has rallied recently pretty good, so it’s giving back some of the gains,” said Giri Cherukuri, head trader at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

“Off the weaker housing data, people are forecasting a little bit weaker economy and that is hurting commodities, as the economy may not be as strong as previously expected.”

Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) shares hit a 12-month high after the machinery maker’s third-quarter earnings soared past expectations.

Caterpillar, up 3.4 percent at $59.80, was the Dow's .DJI best performer, even as the industrial average dropped 70.43 points, or 0.70 percent, to 10,021.76. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 7.88 points, or 0.72 percent, to 1,090.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC lost 14.29 points, or 0.66 percent, to 2,162.03.

DuPont DD.N shares fell 2.7 percent to $33.67, making it a top drag in the S&P materials sector and the Dow industrials after the chemical maker posted higher-than-expected third-quarter profit, but revenue fell short of Wall Street estimates. [ID:nN20416505].

Among other blue-chips reporting Tuesday, United Technologies Corp (UTX.N) was off 0.7 percent at $65.00 after its profit fell from the year-ago quarter. Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) fell 1.3 percent to $17.74 despite beating profit expectations.

Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) fell 1.2 percent to $54.13 after reporting sales that missed expectations. [ID:nN20380392].

Also weighing on stocks was crude oil, which fell after eight straight trading days of gains as the NYMEX November crude contract approached expiration. U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 slid 0.6 percent, or 52 cents, to settle at $79.09 a barrel. [ID:nN20425210]

Shares of Dow components Chevron Corp (CVX.N) and Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) fell about 1 percent, with Chevron at $76.90 and Exxon at $72.96.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) posted earnings and sales that were higher than expected in quarterly results released after Monday’s closing bell. On Tuesday, brokerages lifted their price targets on the iPhone maker’s stock to as much as $280, implying a gain of about 40 percent from current levels. Apple shares gained 4.8 percent to $198.94. [ID:nBNG533786].

In spite of Tuesday’s decline, the stock market’s trend in the third quarter has been mostly positive. U.S. stocks have risen steadily as S&P 500 companies have largely exceeded earnings expectations. The S&P 500 was up 5.5 percent in the last 10 trading days. (Editing by Jan Paschal)

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