U.S. stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) were trading in negative territory this morning on declining home sales, an increasing jobless rate and weak earnings reports.

The National Association of Realtors reported that home sales dropped 3% from February to March bringing the annual rate home sales down to 4.57 million from 4.71 million units. To make it even worse, the median sales price plunged to $175,200 from $200,100 a year earlier, a 12.4% drop. On the positive side, median prices rose from $168,200 from February, states Alan Zibel of the Associated Press.

An ETF that has been affected by this decline in home sales is the SPDR S&P Homebuilders (XHB), which dipped about 4.8% in intraday trading despite being up 8.9% for the year.

New jobless claims rose yet again last week. The Labor Department reported that newly filed unemployment claims rose to 640,000 up from a revised 613,000 the previous week and above analysts’ expectations of 635,000. In addition to these numbers, the number of individuals continuing to receive unemployment compensation rose to w hopping 6.13 million, a record for the twelfth straight week, reports Christopher S. Rugaber of the Associated Press. These numbers are indicative that the recession is far from being over as employers continue to slash jobs and keep costs down.

Earnings reports were somewhat mixed this morning. To keep the better-than-expected ball rolling in the financial sector, Credit Suisse (CS) reported earnings of about $1.72 billion beating analysts’ expectations on cost-cutting measures, which enabled the firm to turn around its investment banking arm.

The world’s largest shipping carrier UPS (UPS) missed Wall Street’s expectations by reporting earnings of $0.52/share, as compared to a forecast of $0.56/share. Executives at the company cited the global recession, fewer people sending packages and a damper in premium services offered as reasons for a decline in revenues and 55% drop in profits. Unfortunately, the rest of the year doesn’t seem much sunnier for UPS.

An ETF that has been affected by UPS’s earning report is the iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average (IYT), which dropped about 0.6% in intraday trading and is 12.8% for the year; UPS is 10.3%.

On a separate note, President Barack Obama is trying to end the deceptive practices of credit card companies.  In a time when many can’t make credit card payments, credit card issuers have been hiking up late fees, interest rates and lowering credit limits.  The banks make an astonishing amount of money from charging late fees and over-limit fees. Additionally, they argue that by policing these policies, the government will tie up credit available to many Americans.  However, Obama and his administration argue that they need to protect consumers and this is of utmost priority, states Lorraine Woellert and Alexis Leondis of Bloomberg.

In morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 61.81 points, or 0.78 percent, to 7,824.76; the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was off 5.51 points, or 0.65 percent, to 838.04; the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 13.71 points, or 0.83 percent, at 1,632.41.

Kevin Grewal contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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