US STOCKS-Wall St edges down after S&P 500 flirts with record
* U.S. housing starts, permits tumble in January
* S&P 500 trades within 4 points of its record intraday high
* Indexes down: Dow 0.1 pct; S&P 500 0.2 pct; Nasdaq 0.5 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Feb 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged lower on Wednesday with the S&P 500 facing technical resistance near its record high, while economic data continued to be blurred by extreme weather.
Minutes from the Federal Reserve's policy-setting committee's most recent meeting, which showed Fed officials were nearing a decision how to adjust a promise to keep interest rates low for a while to come, didn't give the market clear direction either.
Wednesday's data gave the latest evidence that an extremely cold winter was putting a big dent in the economy, but the equity market continued to mostly dismiss it.
U.S. housing starts recorded their biggest drop in almost three years in January. The seasonally-adjusted producer price index for final demand rose 0.2 percent, no real indication of a broad pick-up in inflation pressures.
However, some economists lowered their first-quarter growth estimates on the back of the weak starts data. Goldman Sachs lowered its first-quarter growth estimate by a tenth of a percentage point to a 1.8 percent annual rate. Barclays cut its forecast by 0.3 percentage point to a 1.9 percent rate. Continuación...