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Economic Blues Sink Blue Chips 337 Points

Updated from 3:59 p.m. EST

Stocks in New York retreated from a brief afternoon rally to close with losses Friday, as traders assessed the worst retail-sales decline on record and companies continued to signal that economic hardship would hurt future profit.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 336.85 points, or 3.8%, to 8498.42, and the S&P 500 gave back 38 points, or 4.2%, to 873.29. The Nasdaq shed 79.85 points, or 5%, to 1516.85.

For the week, the Dow fell 5%, the S&P 500 dropped 6.2% and the Nasdaq tumbled 7.9%.

The market made a technical reversal Thursday, and now the major averages are coming off of the levels that rally produced, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners. He foresees the market staging short-term reactions to economic data releases. "Until the market gets comfortable with the depth and ... the time frame of the recession, it's just going to be a trading affair," he said.

Several of the day's economic data points were dragging on the market. The Census Bureau reported that October retail sales declined a record 2.8%, following a 1.3% decline in September. Economists were expecting a 2.1% decrease. Excluding autos, sales slumped 2.2%, also a record.

Writing for his blog, bond market strategist Tony Crescenzi said that much of the declines could be attributed to a nearly 13% decline in sales at gas stations. He said that the data indicate another sharp drop in the personal-spending component GDP after a 3.1% decline in the third quarter.
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