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Earlier Market Losses End 3-Week Winning Streak

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Markets are gaining over Friday's session but not enough to erase losses sustained over the previous two days. The escalating situation in Iraq hung heavy in investors' minds and just-OK economic data on home turf kept Wall Street cautious.

In the homestretch of trading, benchmark indices kneejerked in response to Twitter rumors, which later proved unsubstantiated, of an attempt on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's life. By market close, markets recovered with the S&P 500 having gained 0.31% to 1,936.16, the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.25% to 16,775.74, and the Nasdaq adding 0.3% to 4,310.65.

Even with those gains, those three indices finished the week lower, the first weekly decline in three weeks. Record highs achieved over Monday's session were squashed after the markets suffered a second straight day in the red on Thursday. For the week, the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq are down 0.68%, 0.88% and 0.25%, respectively. 

Assassination rumors aside, the situation in Iraq remains dire as Islamist rebel forces moved closer to Baghdad after capturing two more towns overnight. Contributing to unease, President Obama said Thursday that U.S. military strikes against Sunni Islamist militants are under consideration. Though oil prices have soared on impending conflict, markets have fallen with investors fearful of the effect a protracted period of uncertainty will have on global equities.

On the homefront, the Labor Department said U.S. producer prices posted a surprising drop in May, down 0.2% from April's 0.6% increase (its largest gain in 18 months). Economists had expected a more tempered 0.1% increase. The University of Michigan Sentiment Index for June declined to the lowest level in three months and came in below economists' forecasts.

Platinum Partners president Uri Landesman, self-professed bear for at least another quarter, believes it's not going to take much to shake this market. "We're going to have a major correction, like a 300-point correction, over the next three to four months," he told TheStreet. "The last 100 points up has been on pretty light volume, so I think it will be less difficult to erase than if it had been on heavy volume."

Bullish news from the tech sector kept some levity in the markets, if only for the day. Helping buoy the Nasdaq, Intel (INTC) shares popped 6.8% to $29.86 after the company upwardly revised its second-quarter revenue guidance due to strong business demand for PCs.

News Priceline (PCLN - Get Report) had agreed to acquire OpenTable (OPEN) for $2.6 billion sparked gains among internet names. Though Priceline dropped 3%, OpenTable roared 47.4% higher to $104.48. Fellow online deals sites Groupon (GRPN) and GrubHub (GRUB) surged 3.9% and 7%, respectively.

European markets ended their sessions in the red with the FTSE 100 falling the furthest with losses of 0.95%. Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney said he expects a British interest rate increase to come sooner than expected. Economists had expected a rate hike no sooner than the first quarter of 2015.

--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.

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