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US stocks trade hesitantly ahead of economic data

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US stocks trade hesitantly ahead of economic data

Stocks on the American exchanges fluctuated, as market participants reacted to latest developments from Geneva concerning Iran’s nuclear program. In a landmark agreement, the nation of 77 million agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in return for around $7 billion worth of sanctions relief.

The European Union said sanctions against the Islamic Republic could be eased as early as December, which would lift numerous restrictions on Iran’s petrochemicals and precious metals industries.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.1 percent to 1,802.48 after extending its record high. Four of the S&P 500’s ten industries reported gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 7.77 points to 16,072.50 after more than half of its 30 members reported gains. Caterpillar Inc (NYSE:CAT) rose more than 1.8 percent after Bank of America analysts upgraded their rating of the company.

“The market is not necessarily overextended, but probably moderately rich,” said Cam Albright of Wilmington Trust. “It’s probably difficult to envision this market getting a lot more upside unless it has this continued success on earnings and economic growth,” Albright added.

Companies listed on the S&P 500 enjoyed another strong earnings season, putting the benchmark index on pace for its best performance in a decade. The S&P 500 has risen in each of the past seven weeks.

Economic data will dominate the headlines for the rest of the week. The US Census Bureau will report on monthly durable goods orders, which will provide market participants with advanced statistics concerning US production activity. The Conference Board and University of Michigan will each report on consumer confidence, which could provide key insights about consumer willingness to spend this holiday season.

Data from the National Association of Realtors showed contracts for previously-owned homes fell for the fifth consecutive month, as low inventories and high borrowing costs continue to keep would-be buyers out of the housing market. New legislation issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development will make it more difficult for some buyers to qualify for loans. The new legislation comes into effect in January 2014.

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