Dow, S&P 500 edge lower after mixed housing data

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US stocks were mostly lower early Wednesday, extending a choppy week for Wall Street following mixed housing data and good earnings from retailers.

Housing builds started last month dropped 0.7 percent to a lower-than-expected level, according to US government data that showed single-family home construction as especially weak.

The housing starts data was offset somewhat by a rise in housing permits, an indicator of projects in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, retailers Target, Lowe’s and TJX — owner of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods — all reported solid quarterly earnings, joining Walmart and Home Depot from the prior day in painting an upbeat picture of US consumers despite higher inflation.

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.1 percent at 36,104.37.

The broad-based S&P 500 also slipped 0.1 percent to 4,695.12, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was essentially flat at 15,971.61.

Among individual companies, Visa slumped 5.0 percent after Amazon announced Wednesday it would stop accepting payments in the UK made with Visa credit cards, blaming the move on high fees.