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US housing results bring down stocks

US stocks retreated from 12-month highs yesterday as disappointing housing and inflation data prompted investors to book recent gains despite strong results from bellwethers including Apple and Caterpillar.<br /><br />New construction of US homes rose less than expected in September and US producer prices posted an unexpected decline, both pointing to an anemic economic recovery. DuPont shares fell 2.2 per cent to $33.87, making it a top drag in the S&amp;P materials sector and the Dow industrials after the chemical maker posted higher-than-expected third-quarter profit, but revenue fell short of Wall Street estimates.<br /><br />After the closing bell, Yahoo, one of the largest sellers of online display advertising, said third-quarter profit more than tripled from a year ago, beating Wall Street&rsquo;s estimates and sending its stock up 4.1 per cent to $17.88.<br /><br />Flash memory maker SanDisk Corp also reported results after the bell that easily topped Wall Street&rsquo;s expectations. Its stock soared almost 10 per cent in extended trading to $23.62.<br /><br />During regular trading, shares of companies in the materials sector declined as commodity prices fell. The Reuters/Jefferies CRB commodity index was off for the first time in seven sessions and crude oil settled lower for the first day in nine.<br /><br />Shares of home builders also fell, with the Dow Jones home construction index down 2.1 per cent.<br /><br />Caterpillar Inc shares hit a 12-month high after the machinery maker&rsquo;s third-quarter earnings soared past expectations.<br /><br />Caterpillar, up 3 percent at $59.61, was the Dow&rsquo;s best performer. <br /><br />But the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average dropped 50.71 points, or 0.50 per cent, to end at 10,041.48. The Standard &amp; Poor&rsquo;s 500 Index fell 6.85 points to 1,091.06. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 12.85 points to close at 2,163.47.<br /><br />Among other Dow components reporting yesterday, United Technologies Corp dipped to $65.40 after its profit fell from the year-ago quarter. Pfizer fell to $17.93 despite beating profit expectations. Coca-Cola Cola fell 1.3 per cent to $54.07 after sales missed expectations.