U.S. stocks extended their losses on Wednesday after official data showed that sales of single-family houses in the US fell unexpectedly in February.
The S&P 500 Index declined 6.53 points, or 0.5 percent, to trade at 1,287.24 at 10:35 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 21.76 points, or 0.18 percent, to trade at 11,996.87. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.6 percent.
Sales of single-family houses in the US fell unexpectedly in February, showing continued weakness in the housing industry recovery. New home sales in the US fell 16. 9 percent to 250,000 in February compared with previous month, while markets had expected the new home sales to rise slightly to 288,000 in February.
Earlier stocks opened lower as renewed concerns over the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis and higher-than-expected rebuilding costs in Japan weighed on the sentiment.
The euro eased from a four-and-a-half month high against the dollar on Thursday as appetite for the single currency weakened, amid renewed concerns over debt problems in Portugal. The EUR/USD pair retreated to $1.4127 on speculation that Portugal’s minority government may collapse today, as the country’s parliament votes on budget cuts that have divided lawmakers.
Meanwhile, Japan's government has said that the cost of March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear radiation woes, which have devastated the country, could reach $309 billion. That figure is considerably higher than other estimates. The World Bank on Monday said damage might reach $235 billion and Investment bank Goldman Sachs had estimated quake damage of as much as $200 billion.
On the corporate front, shares of Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE:JBL) soared 11.57 percent to $21.12 in early trade. The company reported second quarter net income of $55.4 million or $0.25 per share, up from $29.8 million or $0.14 per share in the same period a year-ago.
Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) fell 5.85 percent to $30.95, after its second quarter earnings and revenue forecast fell short of expectations. It expects second quarter profit to be in the range of $0.47 to $0.54 per share on $970 million to $1.02 billion revenue, while analysts expect $0.57 a share on revenue of $1.04 billion.
Crude oil futures advanced 0.76 percent to $105.77/barrel and gold futures gained 0.62 percent.
European stock markets are currently trading lower with FTSE 100 down by 10.87 points, DAX30 down by 29.71 points and CAC 40 down by 9.22 points.