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Stocks open lower on Wall Street

October 21, 2009|Associated Press

NEW YORK — A disappointing report on housing starts sent stocks lower Tuesday despite some better-than-expected news on corporate earnings.

The major indexes each fell about half a percent, and the Dow industrials lost 50 points.

Stocks retreated from 2009 highs after the Commerce Department said applications for home building permits fell 1.2% in September, the largest amount in five months.

A rebound from 14-month lows in the dollar's value against other major currencies also hurt stocks by driving down commodities prices and, in turn, sending energy and materials shares lower.

The housing data and the stronger dollar overshadowed strong earnings reports from Apple, Caterpillar and health insurer UnitedHealth Group.

Earnings are likely to dominate trading today. After the close of Tuesday's trading, Yahoo and SanDisk reported profits that were well ahead of analyst expectations. The stocks gained in after-hours trading.

The Dow fell 50.71 points, or 0.5%, to 10,041.48. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.85 points, or 0.6%, to 1,091.06. The Nasdaq composite index fell 12.85 points, or 0.6%, to 2,163.47. The Russell 2,000 index of smaller companies lost 1.4%. Two stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

Treasury yields fell after the Labor Department said wholesale prices fell more than expected in September. The 10-year T-note fell to 3.33% from 3.39% late Monday.

The dollar and gold rose. Oil futures lost ground for the first time in a week, falling 52 cents to settle at $79.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after climbing to $80.05 during the day, its highest level in a year.

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