Housing Data Further Inhibit Stocks - TheStreet

Housing Data Further Inhibit Stocks

After a weak start for stocks, investors are digesting worse-than-expected housing data.
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Updated from 9:57 a.m. EDT

U.S. stocks kept falling after a slightly weak open Thursday as investors digested worse-than-expected data concerning the capsized housing market.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was down 132 points to 11,450, while the

S&P 500

dropped 11 points to 1271. The

Nasdaq

gave up 25 points to 2301.

The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales declined 2.6% to 4.86 million units in June, falling short of economists' expectations for 4.95 million units. Median single-family home prices fell 6.1% year over year in June.

"We still think home sales have some way yet to fall, but they are not going to keep dropping at the June pace," wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, in an email. He predicted further price drops for U.S. homes.

The Labor Department also released jobless claims for the week ended July 19. Initial claims were up 34,000 to 406,000 for the week, and the July 12 figure was revised to 372,000 from 366,000.

The downdraft in stocks came as traders sorted through another slew of corporate quarterly reports.

Following the close of Wednesday's trading, online merchant

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

beat earnings estimates

on both the top and bottom lines.

Elsewhere in technology, chipmaker

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

matched analyst expectations

despite a decline in third-quarter profit. Qualcomm also

settled a patent dispute

with cell-phone maker

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

.

Meanwhile, homebuilder

Ryland

(RYL)

posted a loss that was worse than its year-ago results, while

Pulte Homes

(PHM) - Get Report

narrowed its own loss.

Before the new day's trading got underway, investors heard quarterly results from another heap of companies.

Dow Chemical

(DOW) - Get Report

reported a 27% drop in profit on rising energy and materials costs.

Farm products makers

Bunge

(BG) - Get Report

and fertilizer seller

Potash

(POT)

, on the other hand, both recorded soaring profits.

In the pharmaceutical space,

Elan

(ELN)

cut its second-quarter loss in half on improving sales of its multiple-sclerosis drug Tysabri.

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

announced a 44% increase in second-quarter income, but reduced its full-year earnings outlook.

Celgene

(CELG) - Get Report

likewise saw profits soar on strong sales of its Revlimid blood cancer treatment.

Automaker

Ford

(F) - Get Report

posted a wider-than-expected loss of $8.7 billion on waning demand for its heavy vehicles and hefty impairment charges.

Consumer-products company

Kimberly-Clark

(KMB) - Get Report

saw second-quarter earnings decline 10% on increasing natural gas, oil and distribution costs.

Among financials,

National City

(NCC)

said it swung to a $1.8 billion loss thanks to an increase in loan-loss reserves and $1.1 billion in writedowns.

Outside earnings,

The Wall Street Journal

reported that Kevin Johnson, head of

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

Windows and online services segments, will

leave the company

for

Juniper Networks

(JNPR) - Get Report

.

In pursuit of a merger,

XM Satellite Radio

(XMSR)

and

Sirius

(SIRI) - Get Report

said they will pay a $19.7 million penalty to settle Federal Communications Commission rules violations, a move that may push the deal forward.

Moving over to commodities, crude oil was down 6 cents to $124.38 a barrel after falling nearly $7 over the past two days. Gold was up 70 cents to $923.50.

Treasuries were edging higher. The 10-year note was up 14/32 in price to yield 4.07%, and the 30-year was adding 23/32, yielding 4.63%. The dollar was slightly lower against the euro and yen but strengthening vs. the pound.

Overseas, European exchanges were mostly trading downward. The FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were both weaker. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei gained, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined.