Stocks Fall as Traders Review Earnings, Housing Data

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U.S. equity markets failed to break out of negative territory on Wednesday as traders parsed through disappointing economic data and mixed corporate earnings.

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Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 12.7 points lower, or 0.08%, at 16501, the S&P 500 dipped 4.2 points, or 0.22%, to 1875 and the Nasdaq Composite declined 34 points, or 0.83%, to 4127.

The S&P 500 ended its winning streak at six days, leaving the broad-market barometer about 22 points away from its all-time intraday high.

On the earnings front, Boeing (NYSE:BA) revealed quarterly results that flew past Wall Street's expectations, sending its shares higher. Defense contractor Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) also rallied after the company overcame weaker revenue to log higher profits.  The Dow Jones U.S. Aerospace & Defense Index climbed 1.4%.

Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), the blue-chip consumer products giant, posted better-than-expected quarterly profits, but sales that missed analysts' views. AT&T (NYSE:T) revealed a beat on the bottom line, but shares still fell.

Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD), the biotech behemoth that took a beating earlier this month as momentum stocks dropped, actually revealed much stronger-than-expected results.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) reported a strong earnings beat after the closing bell. The world’s biggest company by market capitalization also expanded its dividend and share repurchase program. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) also topped consensus estimates for the top and bottom lines.

In economic news, the Commerce Department said sales of newly-constructed homes fell 14.5% to an annualized rate of 384,000 units in March. Economists expected a reading of 450,000 units. Construction and housing-related stocks, such as Owens Corning (NYSE:OC) and Whirlpool (NYSE:WHR), widely sold off on the news.

Elsewhere, U.S. crude oil futures continued to trade lower after government data revealed record-high supplies. Nymex oil was down to $101.51 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline traded near breakeven at $3.04 a gallon. Gold advanced $3.60, or 0.28%, to $1,284.70 a troy ounce.