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NEW YORK REPORT

US&nbsp; stocks&nbsp; slipped yesterday after a three-day runup on concern recent gains were overextended despite the latest round of solid economic data.<br /><br />Analysts said investors were trying to assess whether further market gains were justified, with the benchmark S&amp;P 500 now up 58 per cent since its early March lows.<br /><br />Shares of financials, energy and other sectors that have led recent gains lost ground. <strong>American Express</strong>, down 2.3 per cent at $35, was among top drags on the Dow, along with <strong>Exxon Mobil</strong>, down 0.7 percent at $69.84.<br /><br />Data showed business activity in the mid-Atlantic states jumped more than expected in September and advanced to its highest level since June 2007, underscoring hopes that the recovery was on track.<br /><br />The Dow Jones industrial average fell 7.79 points, or 0.08 per cent, to end at 9,783.92. The Standard &amp; Poor's 500 Index was down 3.27 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 1,065.49. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 6.40 points, or 0.30 per cent, at 2,126.75.<br /><br />Weighing on the Nasdaq was <strong>Oracle</strong>, which fell 2.8 per cent to $21.52, a day after reporting first-quarter revenue below expectations.<br /><br />In other economic news, US housing starts and permits increased to their highest level since November, largely due to a big gain in multifamily starts.