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AP: Wall Street recoiled again Thursday, sending stocks lower for a second straight day as new readings on retail sales and jobless claims fanned investors’ worries that the economy is in recession.

New claims for unemployment benefits did dip by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 481,000, according to the labour Department. But jobless claims above 400,000 are considered recessionary levels, and have run above that figure for 16 weeks. Also, long-term claims jumped to 3.84 million, the highest level in 25 years. The numbers arrive a day ahead of the key October jobs report, a widely watched barometer of the economy’s health.

Meanwhile, retailers are releasing October sales figures that indicate consumers are pulling back their spending sharply. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported a better-than-expected 2.4 per cent rise in October sales at stores open for at least a year, but investors are worried about other specialty retailers; Limited Brands Inc. and Gap Inc., for example, posted worse-than-expected sales drops.

In the first hour of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 119.55, or 1.31 per cent, to 9,109.72.

Broader stock indicators also declined. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 14.58, or 1.53 per cent, to 938.19, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 30.37, or 1.81 per cent, to 1,651.27.

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