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Stocks cool after data on housing disappoint

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Stocks meandered between small gains and losses, cooling off after a rally that had pushed the S&P 500 above 1,500 for the first time since 2007. Encouraging manufacturing news gave an early lift, but stocks slipped after a report on home sales. The US said before trading began that orders for long-lasting goods rose in December by 4.6%, but after trading began, the National Association of Realtors said its index of pending home sales fell in December, suggesting sales may slow. Hess was the S&P 500’s big gainer, adding 6.1% after it said it plans to sell its US terminal network, shutter its New Jersey refinery, and shift to exploration and production.

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