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U.S. Stocks Fall as Sales of New Homes Unexpectedly Drop

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March 23 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks fell as purchases of new homes in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in February, a sign the recovery in the housing market may be uneven.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.2 percent to 1,390.67 at 10:03 a.m. in New York. The benchmark index is poised for its biggest weekly drop of the year.

New-home sales fell 1.6 percent to a 313,000 annual pace, the slowest since October, from a 318,000 rate in January that was weaker than previously reported, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 78 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for 325,000.

U.S. stocks retreated yesterday as manufacturing contracted in China and Europe and FedEx Corp. tumbled amid a disappointing forecast. The S&P 500 slumped 1.2 percent in the past three days. The gauge is still headed for its longest monthly rally since September 2009 as economic data topped forecasts and the European Central Bank disbursed more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) to lenders.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeff Sutherland at jsutherlan13@bloomberg.net