Wall Street slides as investors fret over data

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NEW YORK -- Wall Street retreated Thursday after housing data showed sales surged in April by the largest amount in 14 years, damping hopes that an interest rate cut would be needed to stimulate the economy.

Investors were originally enthusiastic after the Commerce Department reported sales of single-family homes rose 16.2% last month after falling slightly in March. Even though the report showed the economy continues to expand, investors became unnerved by a record drop in home prices.

The report followed data released by the department earlier Thursday that showed sales of big-ticket manufactured goods posted a modest increase in April, perhaps signaling a continued rebound in business spending. The durable goods report suggested U.S. companies are in the midst of growing, and aren't afraid to spend money to do so.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 84.52, or 0.62%, to 13,441.13. The shift in the direction of the Dow and the other major indexes Thursday was pronounced. The Dow rose nearly 100 points to 13,624.55 early in the session -- eclipsing its previous trading high of 13,609.75 reached Wednesday -- before pulling back.
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