March 20, 2012 / 4:27 PM / 6 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St falls on China worries

* Tiffany higher after bullish forecast

* U.S. housing permits jump to highest level since Oct 2008

* Indexes down: Dow, S&P both 0.5 pct, Nasdaq 0.6 pct

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday after a 3-day winning streak for the S&P 500 on concerns that China’s economy may be slowing down.

BHP Billiton Ltd , the world’s largest mining company, said it saw signs of “flattening” iron ore demand as the government seeks to cool the world’s second biggest economy.

“Do I think we are due for a pullback? Yes. Do I think this is the start of a pullback? No,” said Mike Shea, managing partner and trader at Direct Access Partners in New York.

“The news out of China caused everyone to look up and take a breath, but the sentiment hasn’t changed. It’s still bullish.”

Before Tuesday, the benchmark S&P was up in eight of the past nine sessions. The index was at its highest point since May 2008 and 10 percent below the record close of 1,565.15 in October 2007.

The market has been showing resilience, shrugging off sluggish starts and building upward momentum later in the session to close higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 62.13 points, or 0.47 percent, at 13,177.00. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 6.46 points, or 0.46 percent, at 1,403.29. The Nasdaq Composite Index took off 19.11 points, or 0.62 percent, at 3,059.21.

Easing concerns about the euro zone debt crisis and improving U.S. economic data have lifted the S&P index more than 11 percent for the year and over 27 percent from an October low.

Permits for U.S. homebuilding neared a 3-1/2 year high in February, even as groundbreaking activity slipped, the government said Tuesday, suggesting a nascent recovery in the sector was still on track.

Shares of Tiffany and Co jumped 6.6 percent to $73.26 after the jewelry chain forecast higher sales this year, helped by expansion in Asia and the Americas.

Adobe Systems Inc lost nearly 4 percent to $33.15 and was the worst percentage decliner on the Nasdaq 100. The maker of the Photoshop and Acrobat software late Monday reported that quarterly revenue growth slowed, missing forecasts.

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp hit an all-time high of $14.78 ahead of the release of its highly anticipated “Hunger Games” movie. The stock was up 2.9 percent at $14.66 at midday.

Bank of America Corp jumped 2.4 percent to $9.77 a day after it said it didn’t plan a secondary stock offering. Concerns that it might need to issue more common stock to boost its capital base have weighed on the share price.

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