Stocks edged lower on Wednesday after worse-than-expected housing market data for February and a soft outlook from oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc.
Equities drifted negative after the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales slipped 0.9 percent to an annual rate of 4.59 million units last month, denting recent optimism the housing market had begun to turn a corner.
Certainly disappointing in terms of the consensus view. Even looking at the annual rate it is disappointing and isn't showing the kind of growth that many people had expected, said Mark Grant, managing director at Southwest Securities in Fort Lauderdale.
The PHLX housing index <.HGX> was up 0.5 percent, down from its initial highs. Armstrong World Industries Inc
Oil service stocks declined, dragged lower by Baker Hughes
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 8.59 points, or 0.07 percent, to 13,161.60. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dropped 1.29 points, or 0.09 percent, to 1,404.23. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 2.24 points, or 0.07 percent, to 3,076.39.
While the benchmark S&P 500 index has steadily moved higher over the past two weeks, movement has been muted as investors weigh the possibility of a pullback against a surge higher.
General Mills Inc
Hewlett Packard Co
U.S. staffing provider On Assignment Inc
Hartford Financial Services Group
(Additonal reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)