Stocks Slip, Close Down on Earnings, Drop in New Home Sales

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Stocks slipped on Wednesday, with Wall Street retreating after a sixth day of gains for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, after data had new home sales declining and companies including Boeing and AT&T reported quarterly results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed unofficially down 12 points, the S&P 500 lost 4 points and the Nasdaq dropped 34 points.

"We've rallied for six consecutive days. You know what you're supposed to do on the seventh," said Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

"Earnings are coming out, and for the most part are either mixed or positive," said Stephen Carl, head equity trader at Williams Capital Group

Boeing shares gained over 2 percent after the plane manufacturer's new profit in the first quarter topped expectations. AT&T slid almost 4 percent after the wireless carrier also reported first-quarter earnings that exceeded estimates.

"The U.S. recovery remains in fits and starts," Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, emailed after the Commerce Department reported new home sales fell 14.5 percent in March, the worst sales month since July.

The Markit survey of U.S. purchasing managers came in at 55.4 for April, below estimates of 56.0.

"It's still indicative of expansion, but not as good as the month before, and not the robust growth we thought we'd see," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

The dollar fell against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners; the yield on the 10-year Treasury note used in figuring mortgage rates and other consumer loans fell 3 basis points to 2.686 percent.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude-oil futures for June delivery fell 31 cents to $101.44 a barrel, while gold futures for June delivery rose $3.50 to end at $1,284.60 an ounce.