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Market Recap: Final Verdict for Third Quarter Involves the Word 'Gain

Markets closed down today:

▼ Dow: -0.36 percent

▼ Nasdaq: -0.65 percent

▼ S&P: -0.45 percent

Precious metals:

▼ Gold: -0.26 percent to $1,767.70 an ounce

▼Silver: -0.30 percent to settle at $34.36

Commodities:

▼ Oil: -0.09 percent

Market closed down because:

Stocks posted gains for the third quarter, although the ride got bumpy at the end.

Stocks fell five days of the last six, including on Friday, the last trading day of the quarter. But the big indexes are still up 4 percent or more for the three months. They're ahead 10 percent or more for the year.

That's despite all the anxiety about the euro, Iran and U.S. politics.

Investors got some more of that "iffy" economic data on Friday. The Commerce Department said consumer spending rose a half-percent last month, compared with July. That was a big jump -- but it was driven by higher gas prices, rather than by spending on clothing, electronics and general merchandise. Consumer spending drives nearly 70 percent of economic activity.

The news pushed stocks lower. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 48.84 points to close at 13,437.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.48 points to 1,440.67. The Nasdaq composite index fell 20.37 points to 3,116.23. The losses had been steeper in the morning before stocks recovered somewhat around midday.

Stocks fell in all industry groups in the S&P 500 except utilities. Telecommunications and information technology stocks had the biggest losses.

Many investors worry that the recent gains by stocks aren't justified, considering the risks of a confrontation with Iran, weak corporate profits, and Europe's troubles.

Investors are still concerned about Spain's financial health. The Bank of Spain released an audit Friday showing that seven of the country's banks failed stress tests. Moody's, the credit rating agency, is also expected to weigh in on Spain's creditworthiness, and there are concerns the government's rating will be cut to "junk" status.

Stocks in Europe fell. The CAC 40 in France fell 2.5 percent, the FTSE 100 in Britain was down 0.6 percent, and Germany's DAX fell 1 percent.

Stocks finished higher in Asia on continued speculation that China's central bank will act soon to help the world's No. 2 economy.

For the year so far, the Dow is up 10 percent, the S&P 500 up almost 15 percent, and the Nasdaq is up 20 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

One last thing…
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