U.S. stocks tumbled again Friday as traders fretted about the possibility of a prolonged period of weakness in equities.
Major indexes are now about 5% below their recent closing highs. They declined gradually throughout the day, while still bouncing around with the volatility that has been ubiquitous this week, and made a final, sharp downturn in the closing minutes.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 120.24 to 12114.10, down seven of the past eight sessions. The Dow suffered its biggest weekly percentage drop – 4.2% -- since the week ended March 28, 2003. The S&P 500 lost 16 to 1387.17. It declined 4.4% on the week, its biggest fall since the week ended Jan. 24, 2003. The Nasdaq Composite Index was off 36.21, or 1.5%, to 2368, ending at its lowest level of the day. It absorbed its biggest weekly percentage drop since Aug. 6, 2004. [...]
Meanwhile, traders digested more troubling economic data. The University of Michigan's final reading on consumer confidence for February fell to 91.3 from 96.9 at the end of January, further than previously estimated, reaching a five-month low as concerns over incomes and jobs in a slowing economy weighed on confidence.
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