US stocks retreat

New York, Aug 19 (IANS) US stocks ended lower after wavering in a tight range, as investors pondered over a sharp sell-off in the Chinese stock market amid upbeat US housing data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched down 33.84 points (0.19 percent) to 17,511.34. The S&P 500 declined 5.52 points (0.26 percent) to 2,096.92. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 32.35 points (0.64 percent) to 5,059.35, reported Xinhua.

Chinese shares nose dived on Tuesday with the benchmark Shanghai composite index dropping 6.15 percent to close at 3,748.16 points.

Despite government’s reassurance about continued stabilisation of the market, concerns remain that authorities could pull rescue funds.

European stocks finished mildly lower following the Chinese stock slump on Tuesday, with British benchmark FTSE 100 Index declining 0.37 percent.

On the economic front, US housing starts came in much better than expected. Privately-owned housing starts in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,206,000, the highest rate since October 2007, said the commerce department on Tuesday.

The figure is 0.2 percent above the revised June estimate of 1,204,000 and 10.1 percent above the July 2014 rate of 1,095,000.

“The housing market looks poised to remain on solid footing heading into the second half of 2015, ahead of the Fed’s possible interest rate increase that could come by year end,” said Sophia Kearney-Lederman, an analyst at FTN Financial.

Wall Street is keeping a close eye on the Fed minutes from July meeting scheduled for release on Wednesday, which was expected to give more clues on the timing of an interest rate hike.

The US retail giant reported net profit of $3.48 billion, or $1.08 per share, in the second quarter ended July 31, compared to $3.92 billion, or $1.21 per share, a year earlier.

The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street’s fear gauge, rose 5.91 percent to end at 13.79 on Tuesday.

The US dollar traded mixed against other major currencies on Tuesday amid the country’s strong economic data.

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