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Wall Street Walloped

Updated from 4:07 p.m. EST

Stocks had their worst session in months on Monday as soft sales at Wal-Mart (WMT) and a continuing climb in oil prices helped spur intense profit-taking to start the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 158.38 points, or 1.29%, to 12,121.79. It was the Dow's worst single-day point loss since July 13.

Of the index's 30 components, 27 finished lower, including declines of 2.7% in Boeing (BA), General Motors (GM) and Wal-Mart.

Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite notched their biggest point losses since early June. The S&P 500 fell 19 points, or 1.36%, to 1381.95, and the Nasdaq gave up 54.34 points, or 2.21%, to 2405.92, pressured by a 5.4% retreat in XM Satellite Radio (XMSR) and a 4% pullback in Google (GOOG).

Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist with Spencer Clarke LLC, said that the large decline is "a tough start to the week as investors take profits. Remember that today has historically been a down one for equity markets following the Thanksgiving holiday. Today is no different."

About 2.71 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, and volume on the Nasdaq was roughly 1.98 billion shares. Losers outpaced advancers 4 to 1.

By sector, stocks related to precious metals were among the few winners. The Philadelphia Gold & Silver Index rose 0.5%, and the Amex Gold Bugs Index was up 0.1%. Tech stocks were among the hardest hit. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Sector Index lost 2.3%, the Nasdaq Computer Index fell 2.5%, and the Amex Computer Technology Index was down 2.5%.

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