Stocks fell yesterday as the fourth straight increase in oil prices and a slowdown in home resales suggested that economic growth may slacken. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index closed at a six-week low.

Raw-material producers, whose sales rely on the strength of the economy, led the decline. Home builders also slumped.

"There are a lot of headwinds that both the market and the economy face," said Sean Clark, chief investment officer of Clark Capital Management in Philadelphia. "We came into this year thinking that this year was going to be more challenging than most investors and strategists thought. So far it has."

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 50.31, or 0.5 percent, to 10,519.58. The benchmark is down 2.4 percent in 2005. The S&P 500 fell 4.14, or 0.3 percent, to 1217.59, the lowest since July 8. The Nasdaq composite index slid 4.16, or 0.2 percent, to 2137.25.

Sales of previously owned homes slowed to a 7.16 million annual rate last month, the National Association of Realtors said. Economists in a Bloomberg News survey expected a pace of 7.25 million. A Commerce Department report on new-home sales is scheduled to be released today.


Pulte Homes, the second-largest U.S. home builder by stock market value, fell 68 cents, to $83.48, as an S&P index of home-building stocks dropped 1.1 percent, bringing its slide in August to 13 percent. Smaller rival Lennar dropped 79 cents, to $58.93.

Alcoa, the world's largest aluminum producer, slid 68 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $27.68, for the worst performance in the Dow average. An index of materials shares sank 1.6 percent, for the steepest loss among 10 S&P 500 industry groups.

Citigroup, the world's biggest financial services company, slid 64 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $43.56, for the second-worst performance in the Dow average.

Pier 1 Imports, the largest U.S. retailer of imported home furnishings, dropped 50 cents, to $13.36. The company expects a bigger loss this quarter than previously forecast.

Lucent Technologies climbed 11 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $2.98, for the best performance in the S&P 500.


New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 32.76, to 7453.78.

American Stock Exchange index rose 7.22, to 1611.07.

Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 2.00, to 655.47.


NYSE: 1.69 billion shares, up from 1.62 billion on Monday. Decliners outnumbered advancers 5 to 4.

Nasdaq: 1.37 billion shares, down from 1.38 billion. Decliners outnumbered advancers 5 to 4.


Crude oil for October delivery: $65.71, up 6 cents.

Gold for current delivery: $439.40 a troy ounce, up from $438.10 on Monday.