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Stocks Struggle As Housing Data Disappoints -- U.S. Commentary

3/23/2012 10:34 AM ET

U.S. stocks are slightly weaker in early trading Friday morning, as disappointing housing data raised fresh concerns about the pace of economic recovery.

Sales of new U.S. homes slipped 1.6 percent in February amid a significant jump in prices, data from the Commerce Department showed Friday.

The Dow is down 22 points or 0.17 percent at 13,024.21, the Nasdaq is down 14 points or 0.47 percent at 3,049.34 and the S&P 500 is down 3 points or 0.23 percent at 1,389.37.

Luxury home builder KB Home on Friday reported net orders declined 8 percent from last year. The home builder's loss per share for the quarter was wider than analysts' estimates and revenues missed their expectations. Shares are down 11 percent.

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) is offering a pilot program called "Mortgage to Lease" to certain mortgage customers facing foreclosure, which allows them to remain in their homes as tenants. The stock is flat.

Darden Restaurants (DRI) said its quarterly profit rose 8 percent from last year. The bottom line at the owner of the Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurant chains was boosted by sales that climbed to $2.2 billion from about $2 billion last year. Shares are off 2.8 percent.

Micron Technology (MU) announced a loss for its latest quarter, reversing a profit posted in the same period last year. Sales and margins at the memory chip maker both deteriorated. Micro stock has slipped 4.3 percent today.

Nike (NKE) revealed a quarterly profit that rose 7 percent from last year. The athletic shoe maker said its revenue jumped 15 percent to nearly $5.9 billion. Still, the stock is down 4 percent.

IT services company Accenture (ACN) reported a stronger-than-expected rise in its quarterly profit. The company benefited from revenue growth across all operating groups. Accenture also raised its expectations for the full year, and shares were higher by 0.65 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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