Wednesday’s Mid-Day Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

Despite closing in positive territory on Tuesday, with both the Dow and the S&P just shy of their all-time highs, the U.S. equity markets faltered on Wednesday morning thanks to a mixed reading of U.S. housing data, which slowed the stock rally. Stocks also dipped towards midday as weakness in energy and materials sectors weighed down the indexes

At 12:20 p.m.: DJIA: -0.13%, S&P 500: -0.39%, NASDAQ: -0.53%.

1) For the month of January, housing starts fell by 8.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 890,000. Comparing this figure to both the previous month’s numbers and those of last January shows that the housing recovery still faces some obstacles. In December, homebuilders began construction on 973,000 new homes, while in January of 2012, new-home construction was up 23.6 percent.

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However, there were signs of growth. Construction of single-family homes, a segment of homebuilding that represented approximately two-thirds of all new housing starts last month, increased 0.8 percent… (Read more.)