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Market Recap: Markets Fall as China Stumbles

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Markets closed down on Wall Street today:

▼ Dow -0.52 percent

▼ S&P -0.30 percent

▼ Nasdaq -0.14 percent

▼ Oil -2.15 percent

▼ Gold -1.12 percent

On the commodities front:

▼ Oil (NYSE:USO) fell to $106.23 a barrel

Precious metals:

▼ Gold (NYSE:GLD) down to $1,648.60 an ounce

▼ Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 2.69 percent to settle at $32.07

(Related: How Will the GOP Cut Spending By $5.3 Trillion?)

Today’s markets were down because:

1) China: Prices for industrial commodities fell today on worries that China, the world’s second-largest economy, is headed for a significant slowdown. Officials in China announced plans to allow gas prices to rise in an effort to compensate for higher oil prices.

Home prices are also down in major cities across China, according to recently released government statistics. Investors grew increasingly concerned about the country’s property market following reports that the chief executive of mining giant BHP Billiton said China’s steel production is slowing.

Check Out: Gold and Silver Decline on China Concerns

2) Housing: Housing starts slipped in February, but according to a Commerce Department report today, permits for future construction rose to their highest level since October 2008. Residential construction was up 34.7 percent in February compared to last year, but an oversupply of unsold homes continues to depress prices in the housing market and discourage builders.

Check Out: Housing Market Shows Signs of Recovery

3) Companies: News from China tempered positive sentiment from the seeming housing recovery, and shares of economically sensitive U.S. companies dragged markets downward, with the industrial and materials sector leading the retreat. Caterpillar, Alcoa, and Chevron were among the day’s worst performers. However, shares of Bank of America and Cisco managed to stay positive.

Check Out: Cisco Finds Niche in New Market

[Editor’s note: the above is a cross post that originally appeared on Wall St. Cheat Sheet.]

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