U.S. Stocks Fall Further On Weak Housing Data

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks extended losses Thursday after data painted a pessimistic portrait of the troubled housing sector and automakers Ford Motor Co. and Daimler AG offered downbeat reports.

Already down, the major stock indexes fell further after the National Association reported sales of existing homes in June fell to its lowest level in a decade. .

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 128.16 points to 11,504.22, with 24 of its 30 components trading lower.

The S&P 500 fell 10.19 points to 1,272, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite declined 23.18 points to 2,302.7.

Ahead of the opening bell, stock futures were mostly lower after the government reported a large rise in first-time jobless claims, which jumped 34,000 to 406,000 in the week ended July 19.

The data helped lift Treasury prices while denting stocks and the dollar, although some market observers downplayed the increase in initial claims.

"The auto retooling season is still making for some distortions in the data after the July 4th holiday, so we caution against putting too much emphasis on the numbers," said analysts at Action Economics.

In early action on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude-oil futures rose 25 cents to $124.69 a barrel, on the heels of a dramatic pullback in recent days.

U.S. stocks closed Wednesday's session with gains as lawmakers on Capitol Hill moved closer to approving a plan to help troubled mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and as crude prices steepened their decline.

On Thursday, shares of Ford fell 6.8% after the company reported a loss of nearly $9 billion for the second quarter, while Daimler , which still holds roughly a one-fifth share of Chrysler, also fell 10.4% after it cut its outlook and reported a 25% drop in second-quarter profit.

Shares of Qualcomm Inc. soared 20.4% after the supplier of wireless components settled a long-running patent and royalties dispute with Nokia Corp. , shares of which also gained recently, up 4.4%.

Amazon.com also jumped, up 13.4%, after the online retailing giant reported better-than-forecast second-quarter earnings. .

International markets were mixed, with the Nikkei 225 Average ending more than 2% higher overnight in Tokyo but the German DAX 30 dropping 1.1% after the Daimler results.

By Kate Gibson