Stocks edged lower on Friday, keeping the S&P 500 on track for its first weekly decline in six weeks as housing-related stocks fell after data showed a drop in single-family home sales.
Home sales fell 1.6 percent in Febuary, Commerce Department data showed, although a climb in prices kept optimism intact that the industry may have hit its bottom.
We're continuing to get mixed messages out of the housing market, said Rob Morgan, chief investment strategist at Fulcrum Securities in Philadelphia. Even though these numbers are in line, they're well short of what a healthy market would be.
Fellow homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises Inc
The S&P was on pace for its fourth straight decline, the longest losing streak in four months.
The benchmark S&P is down 1.2 percent for the week, and some investors waited for a further pullback as the index has risen 10.3 percent for the year and 26.2 percent from its October low.
But many analysts do not see it as the start of a deeper pullback, instead looking for a boost next week from quarter-end window dressing, when fund managers drop poor-performing stocks and chase better-performing ones.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 9.38 points, or 0.07 percent, to 13,036.76. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dipped 1.64 points, or 0.12 percent, to 1,391.14. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was off 11.64 points, or 0.38 percent, to 3,051.68.
Jobs search website Monster Worldwide Inc
Darden Restaurants Inc
(Corrects percentage decline in 2nd paragraph to 1.6 percent)
(Reporting By Chuck Mikolajczak; Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)