Dow Drops for Fourth Straight Day

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. stock averages continued this week's losing streak after the latest data on the employment picture and manufacturing activitiy disappointed investors.

A poor outlook from retailing giant Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) also contributed to the negativity. The selling pressure extended the recent weakness in equities as worries about the fiscal cliff and the eurozone's stability contribute to mounting pessism about the global economic picture.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 28 points, or 0.23%, to close at 12,542 in a choppy day of action. The blue-chip index has now fallen in four straight sessions and in six of the past seven days.

Breadth was negative with losers ahead of winners, 16 to 14. The biggest percentage decliners were AT&T(T) , Alcoa(AA) , Verizon(VZ) , and Wal-Mart, which dropped 3.6%.

The world's largest retailer reported better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter but revenue fell short of the consensus estimate. Wal-Mart also trimmed its full-year profit outlook and gave disappointing guidance for the fourth quarter.

The leading Dow gainers were Bank of America (BAC) , Cisco(CSCO) , and Coca-Cola(KO)

The S&P 500 was off more than 2 points, or 0.16%, to close at 1353, while the Nasdaq slid nearly 10 points, or 0.35%, to finish at 2837.

The weakest sectors in the broad market were basic materials, health care, services, and utilities. Conglomerates, consumer cyclicals, and financials finished in the green.

Decliners outnumbered advancers by about a 2-to-1 ratio on the New York Exchange, and 1.6-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. Volume totaled 3.91 billion on the Big Board and 2.01 billion on the Nasdaq.

While it's considered to be skewed by the impact of Hurricane Sandy, Thursday's employment data was less than heartening. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims for the week ended Nov. 10 rose by 78,000 to 439,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised 361,000 and was substantially above the recent trend of slightly below 370,000. Economists were expecting jobless claims of 375,000.

The four-week moving average was 383,750, an increase of 11,750 from the prior week's 372,000.

Continuing claims for the week ended Nov. 3 increased 171,000 to 3.334 million from the preceding week's upwardly revised level of 3.163 million. Economists were forecasting continuing claims of 3.21 million.

"The spike in claims was clearly due to hurricane-related job losses," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics . "Based on previous hurricanes, claims will probably remain elevated for at least a few weeks before subsiding again -- the implied weakening should not be extrapolated. Unfortunately, we don't know the precise hurricane impact, so the information value of the data for gauging the underlying trend will be limited for the next few weeks."

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