Another Down Day

(At 5:54 p.m. EST)

The

Dow

closed out a rough week with another decline Friday, losing 82.35 points, or 1%, to 7850.41. That was the fourth drop in the last five sessions.

So far this month, the Dow has lost 1.9%, and for the year it's down 10.6%. The index declined 5.2%, or roughly 430 points, for the week as traders failed to embrace the government's aid plans.

Only three of the 30 stocks rose in the final session before a three-day weekend,

United Technologies

(UTX) - Get Report

,

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

and

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

.

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

,

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

and

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

were the worst stocks of the day, each falling more than 5%.

Don't forget -- the U.S. market is closed Monday for the President's Day holiday.

Quiet Ahead of the Holiday

(At 11:11 a.m. EST)

Roughly two hours into the trading session, the

Dow

was little changed leading up to a three-day weekend for the New York market. Lately, the index was down about 19 points at 7913, and of the 30 stocks, 14 were down while 16 were up.

Most individual issues were holding near the flat line.

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

and

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

were the biggest percentage movers, gaining 2.7% each.

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

and

United Technologies

(UTX) - Get Report

were better by about 2%.

On the downside,

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

was the leading decliner, giving up 3.4% to $25.29.

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

was sluggish too, slipping 2.2% to $47.06.

Just briefly returning to the news about

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

retail venture, I have to say job well done to Kara Swisher over at All Things Digital for her column on the topic. I hate to admit it, but I have absolutely no memory of

this ever happening

. Do you?

(At 8:35 a.m. EST)

Let's Become a Retail Chain

I have mixed feelings about this

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

plan to open its own

retail stores

, though I think I'm leaning negative.

Fine, the strategy has worked out for

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

. However, considering we're in the worst economic downturn in decades, these days anything associated with retail and discretionary consumer spending makes me a little nervous.

True, Microsoft isn't

Gottschalks

or

Sharper Image

, but opening a retail chain now? Is this really the best way to be deploying capital?

I certainly wish Ballmer & Co. the best of luck. Things sure were a lot more interesting when we, or at least the

European Commission

, were driven to insomnia worrying about Redmond's diabolical plans to take over the world. Just maybe, in some small way, this will help us get back there.