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Peabody Energy Corp., the largest U.S. coal producer, sank with other producers of the fuel on concern the economy is slowing.

Peabody fell $2.25, or 5.2 percent, to $40.96 at 10:58 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Patriot Coal Corp., the fourth-largest eastern U.S. coal producer, plunged 46 cents, or 4.4 percent, to $9.93. Arch Coal Inc., the second-biggest U.S. coal company, tumbled $1.33, or 5.9 percent, to $21.08.

A Commerce Department report today showed that sales of U.S. new homes dropped 12 percent from June to an annual pace of 276,000, the weakest since data collection began in 1963. A separate report showed orders of durable goods increased less than forecast in July.

“The economic news over the past few weeks and especially this week has been pretty negative,” said Amer Tiwana, an analyst at CRT Capital Group LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. “There are real fears that the economy is going to see a significant slowdown.”

Coal, which can be used to generate electricity and make steel, is a barometer for the economy.

Alpha Natural Resources Inc., the third-biggest U.S. coal company, slid $1.78, or 4.8 percent, to $35.55. Massey Energy Co., the largest Central Appalachia coal producer, plunged $1.40, or 4.6 percent, to $28.75. Consol Energy Inc., a coal and natural gas producer, fell $1.01, or 3.3 percent, to $31.68.

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