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Stocks pull back as home starts slide; gold hits a high

November 19, 2009|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Major stock indicators retreated modestly from 13-month highs Wednesday on disappointing forecasts from technology firms and an unexpected drop in new-home construction.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 11 points after rising in nine of the preceding 10 sessions.

Tech stocks slumped, weighing on the Nasdaq composite index, after forecasts late Tuesday from software makers Autodesk and Salesforce.com fell short of analysts' expectations. Also late Tuesday, shares of Research in Motion were downgraded by a Bank of Montreal analyst, who said the BlackBerry maker faced increased competition from cheaper devices.

Autodesk sank 10%, while Salesforce.com lost 3.1% and Research in Motion fell 2.5%.

Also giving investors reason for caution, the Commerce Department said construction of new homes and apartments fell 10.6% in October, much more than economists had estimated. Building permits, an indicator of future activity, slid 4%, also more than expected.

The Dow fell 11.11 points, or 0.1%, to 10,426.31, after being down as much as 77 points early on. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 0.52 of a point, or 0.1%, to 1,109.80, while the Nasdaq fell 10.64 points, or 0.5%, to 2,193.14.

The Russell 2,000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 0.4%.

Yields on government bonds rose. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note climbed to 3.36% from 3.31% late Tuesday.

The dollar mostly fell against other major currencies, helping push up demand for gold and other metals.

Gold rose for a fourth straight day, climbing $1.90 to $1,140.70 an ounce, a record close, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The metal hit an intraday high of $1,151.20. Copper and silver touched their highest levels in more than a year.

Crude oil rose 44 cents to settle at $79.58 a barrel.

The drop in the dollar offered only modest support to stocks. The market and the dollar have recently often moved in opposite directions, with weakness in the currency boosting commodities and shares of energy and raw-material producers.

Overseas, key stock indexes fell 0.1% in Britain and 0.6% in Japan. Shares climbed 0.2% in Germany and edged lower in France.

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