STEPHEN BERNARD

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks edged lower in early trading Wednesday as investors awaited more data on the housing industry.

The dip in stocks came after a more than 400-point jump in the Dow Jones industrials in just six days. Overseas, Asian markets advanced, but European markets were mostly lower.

The weakness came despite a better-than-expected report on factory orders. The Commerce Department said orders for goods expected to last at least three years rose 4.9 percent in July - the biggest jump in two years and more than the 3 percent increase economists had expected.

The report followed upbeat readings on consumer sentiment and home prices on Tuesday. Later Wednesday morning, the Commerce Department will issue a report on new homes sales in July, which is expected to show the fourth straight increase.

Despite the generally improving economic data, the market remains cautious. After a five-month run-up in stocks, with little break, investors are unsure how much further the market can go without seeing actual economic growth.

In early trading, the Dow fell 38.70, or 0.4 percent, to 9,500.59. The Standard&Poor's 500 index lost 4.59, or 0.5 percent, to 1,023.41, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 4.93, or 0.2 percent, to 2,019.30.