New York Report: Housing data hits Wall St

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American shares yesterday closed lower, with the S&P 500 suffering its biggest one-day fall since early August as the latest housing data came in much weaker than expected, raising new concerns about the level of growth in the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 104.01 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 17,175.73, the S&P 500 lost 15.89 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 1,994.51 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 52.10 points, or 1.14 per cent, to 4,527.69.

Home building stocks fell after the report which said that sales of existing homes fell 1.8 per cent to an annual rate of 5.05m. Toll Brothers was down 3.3 per cent, to $32.41, while the Pulte Group dropped 2.6 per cent, to $18.33.

The St Louis-based chemical firm Sigma-Aldrich surged 33.2 per cent, to $136.40 after agreeing to be acquired by German drug giant Merck.