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NEW YORK -- Retail sales fell by 1.2 percent in September, almost twice the 0.7 percent decline analysts predicted and re-sparking fears that consumer spending will continue to decline in the coming months.
The report, from the Commerce Department, was released just as Wall Street began to resuscitate following U.S. and international governments’ efforts to revive stagnant credit markets.
"Even though the banking sector may be returning to normal, the economy still isn't," said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at ChannelCapitalResearch.com. "The economy continues to face a host of other problems."
According to an Associated Press report, analysts said the market will continue to be volatile as it tries to recover from the devastating losses of the last month, including the nearly 2,400-point plunge in the Dow over eight sessions.
Such turbulence is typical after a huge decline, but the market's uneasiness about the economy also will be reflected in the gyrations expected in the weeks and months ahead, according to the AP.
If Wednesday's decline holds, the Dow will, after a one-day break, resume a string of triple-digit losses or gains. On Tuesday, after swinging erratically throughout the session, the blue-chip index closed the day down a moderate 76 points.
The stock market is trying to recover from last week's crisis, which erased about $2.4 trillion in shareholder wealth and brought the Dow to its lowest level since April 2003. The credit markets have been showing tentative signs of recovery, though they remain strained, and demand for safe assets remains high, according to the AP.
In other economic data Wednesday, the AP reported the Labor Department said the producer price index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach the consumer, fell 0.4 percent in September, driven by lower energy costs.
Light, sweet crude fell $3.07 to $75.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange and the dollar fell against other major currencies. The drop in oil hit energy stocks as Exxon Mobil Corp. fell $5.67, or 7.8 percent, to $66.79, and Chevron Corp. fell $5.42, or 7.9 percent, to $63.12.