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US Stocks Edge Lower At End Of A Volatile Week

By MATTHEW CRAFT

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Disappointing reports about the U.S. economy helped push the stock market lower on Friday.

Concerns that the Federal Reserve could announce plans to cut back its stimulus program next week also weighed on the mood.

Americans' confidence in the economy weakened in June and was lower than economists had estimated, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey out Friday. Another report said factories weren't as busy as expected.

The International Monetary Fund, a global lender, offered no help. The IMF said Friday that U.S. government spending cuts that kicked in March 1 were "ill-designed" and slowed the economy down.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index sank 9.63 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,626.73. Media company Gannett fell the most, dropping $1.61, or 6 percent, to $24.99.

"There was just no good news today," said Cam Albright, a director at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors in Wilmington, Del. Add the handful of economic reports out Friday to the anxiety over the Fed's stimulus program, "and you have the recipe for a soft market to finish the week," he said.

The Dow Jones industrial dropped 105.90 points, or 0.7 percent, to 15,070.18. American Express led the Dow lower, losing $2.24, or 3 percent, to $72.97.

Market indexes flitted from slight gains to losses in morning trading, a contrast to the sudden lurches in previous days. All three major indexes lost 1 percent or more this week.

Trading has been volatile since late May as traders try to figure out when the Fed will dial back its aggressive support for the U.S. economy. This week was no different: The Dow slumped a total of 243 points on Tuesday and Wednesday then jumped 180 points Thursday. The blue-chip average has made moves of 100 points or more in seven of the last 10 trading days.

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