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US stocks dragged down by poor housing figures

US stocks fell more than one per cent in yet another late-day selloff yesterday as unexpectedly poor housing figures and the puncture of a key technical level sapped buying interest.

Stocks marked time in a thinly traded session until the S&P 500 fell through its 200-day moving average, which had been a basis of support in the last few days.

Homebuilders’ shares fell after the National Association of Realtors reported sales of existing homes unexpectedly fell in May in the latest of a series of weak economic releases.

DR Horton fell 2.9 per cent to $10.24 while luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers was off 2.9 per cent at $17.11. The Morgan Stanley housing index slumped 2.6 per cent.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 148.96 points, or 1.43 percent, to 10,293.45. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 17.86 points, or 1.60 per cent, to 1,095.34. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 27.29 points, or 1.19 per cent, to 2,261.80.

The S&P 500 ended below 1111.33, the 200-day moving average.

Energy companies also numbered among the decliners amid worries about regulation. Oil drillers briefly spiked after a US judge ruled against a six-month moratorium imposed by the White House on deepwater drilling, but the Obama administration said it will immediately appeal, and the sector fell.