U.S. Stocks Retreat as Philadelphia Manufacturing Shrinks

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks retreated after a gauge of Philadelphia manufacturing shrank more than forecast and sales of existing homes declined.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.4 percent to 1,350.67 at 10:03 a.m. in New York.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s general economic index fell to minus 16.6 in June from minus 5.8 the previous month. Economists forecast the gauge would improve to zero, the dividing line between growth and contraction, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. The report covers eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.

Purchases of existing properties dropped 1.5 percent to a 4.55 million annual rate last month, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 4.57 million pace.

U.S. stocks dropped yesterday, following a four-day gain in the S&P 500, as the Federal Reserve cut its estimates for growth amid a slowdown in hiring and extended its stimulus program known as Operation Twist.

The Fed lowered its central tendency estimate for U.S. 2012 gross domestic product growth to 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent from 2.4 percent to 2.9 percent in April.

The S&P 500 has rebounded more than 6 percent after sinking to a five-month low on June 1 when Labor Department data showed the weakest U.S. employment growth in a year.

Jobless claims decreased by 2,000 to 387,000 in the week ended June 16, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 45 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for 383,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, climbed to the highest of the year.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael P. Regan at mregan12@bloomberg.net