Stocks finished with a whimper on the last trading day of the year, a fitting end to a dismal year in which the Dow put in its worst performance in a quarter century. The Dow ended Tuesday's session up 9 points, or 0.11%, to 8341 while the S&P 500 was up 0.43 points, or 0.05%, to 880. The Nasdaq was down 4 points, or 0.30%, to 1335. All three averages ended down for a third-straight year, something that hasn't happened since 1939-41. The Dow slid 16.5% for the year while the Nasdaq fell 31.5%; the S&P lost 23.4%. "It's not one people want to remember," said Ben Hovermale, head trader at Wells Capital Management. Indeed, the year 2002 will be looked back upon as a period of massive corporate accounting scandals, bankruptcies and federal indictments, all of which sent stocks into a tailspin. Still, it also will be known as a time of sweeping regulatory reform. After the collapses of WorldCom, Adelphia, Global Crossing and Arthur Andersen, and amid revelations of insider trading at ImClone Systems ( IMCL), the government signed into law the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which compels executives to certify their financial results and bars companies from making personal loans to executives and directors. The new law also mandates that corporate insiders report their trades within two days instead of 10. Wall Street has been transformed in other ways, too. New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's campaign against the major investment banks forced them to cough up significant fines and change the way they do business. From now on, research analysts will have to disclose any conflicts of interest they may have with their investment banking teams, and brokers will be required to provide independent research from a third party. Meanwhile, many of the key players who once defined bull market excesses were replaced this year. Salomon Smith Barney telecom analyst Jack Grubman resigned in ignominy after emails revealed that his research was biased.