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US STOCKS-Wall St dips after mixed data

Sep 29, 2009 12:54PM ET
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* Consumer confidence falls unexpectedly in Sept

* Strong home prices index boosts housing stocks

(Updates to midday)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Sept 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell slightly on Tuesday after data on consumer confidence and home prices gave a mixed picture of the economy.

After opening higher, stocks turned negative on the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, which fell short of Wall Street expectations.

But declines were limited as homebuilders' shares got a boost from stronger-than-expected readings on home prices for July.

"When a bad piece of data comes out, especially after a run like this, people tend to be hesitant," said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist, Channel Capital, Shrewsbury, New Jersey.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 24.33 points, or 0.25 percent, to 9,765.03. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 1.86 points, or 0.17 percent, to 1,061.12. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 9.25 points, or 0.43 percent, to 2,121.49.

The Dow had gained 124 points on Monday as news of corporate deals boosted market sentiment on the view that companies had confidence about the future and that more acquisitions could be coming.

"Window dressing" -- when fund managers sell laggards in favor of outperformers to spruce up portfolios -- as the third quarter draws to an end also could account for the muted losses, Roberts said.

The Dow Jones US Home Construction Index .D gained 0.9 percent on an improved S&P/Case-Shiller home price index reading, suggesting the domestic housing market was stabilizing.

Pulte Homes Inc rose 1.6 percent to $11.44, while Lennar Corp gained 1.9 percent to $14.93.

Walgreen Co rose 9.6 percent to $37.46, after the largest U.S. drugstore chain reported a quarterly profit that topped Wall Street estimates.

CIT Group Inc shares rose 10 percent $1.84 on a report that hedge fund manager John Paulson was considering merging the troubled U.S. finance company with failed mortgage lender IndyMac Federal Bank. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

US STOCKS-Wall St dips after mixed data

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