Energy shares are feeling the weight of slipping crude prices in mid-day trading with the June contract falling more than 1%. Oil prices and sector stocks fell due to continued concern over the European debt situation and weak housing data. Light, sweet crude for June delivery is trading down 1.23% to $96.17 a barrel. In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund ( USO ) is down 0.99% to $38.13. The United States Natural Gas ETF ( UNG ) is down 2.7% to $10.82. Before the market opened, the government reported that new home construction fell 10.6% in April to an annual rate of 523,000, while permits declined 4.0%. Housing starts in March were revised up to 585,000 from an original reading of 549,000, according to Commerce Department data. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected housing starts in April to climb to an annual rate of 575,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. Shares of ConocoPhillips ( COP ) are down after Bloomberg reported the oil major--along with partner Karoon Gas Australia--plan to begin drilling in the Browse Basin off Australia's northwest coast.
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