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US stocks close lower, ending winning streak


NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks fell Friday, ending the longest winning streak for the Dow Jones industrial average in nearly 17 years.

The Dow dropped 25 points to close at 14,514. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell two points to 1,560. The Nasdaq composite index dropped nine points to 3,249.

The Dow notched a 10-day winning streak through Thursday, its longest since November 1996.

Declining stocks outpaced advancing ones on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was above average at 4.9 billion shares.

Trading was tentative because investors fear that rising inflation will cause the Federal Reserve to retreat from policies aimed at boosting markets. The government said that consumer prices increased in February at the fastest pace in more than three years.

The increase was driven by a spike in gas prices; the core index, which excludes the volatile energy and food categories, increased more modestly. But both figures rose 2 percent compared with a year earlier, enough to get investors’ attention, said Peter Tchir, who runs the hedge fund TF Market Advisors.

“It’s real and it’s a drag, and I think people are growing concerned that it can get out of control quickly,” Tchir said. He said signs of economic improvement and inflation “make them wonder if there will be continued market pressure on the Fed” to end its bond-buying programs.

The market’s recent rally to multiyear highs was fueled in part by the Fed’s efforts to keep interest rates low and encourage investment.

A separate government report showed that U.S. factory output rose strongly in February because of an increase in auto production. Manufacturing is helping to drive economic growth after lagging for much of 2012.


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