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Stocks continue downward trend

Wall Street extended its decline Thursday, dipping lower after the Labor Department said productivity was flat in the third quarter while wages rose nearly 4 percent. The data touched off concerns that the Federal Reserve will continue to wrestle with inflation, possibly raising interest rates again.

The economic data, which showed wage pressure was increasing at the fastest rate in more than 20 years, rattled investors who have grown concerned that the economy might be slowing too quickly.

One market observer wasn’t worried, noting that the decline was modest. “In the grand scheme of what’s happened today and this week I’d say the markets are hanging in there,” said Brian Williamson, an equity trader at The Boston Company Asset Management.

Bonds fell, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rising to 4.60 percent from 4.57 percent late Thursday.

Light, sweet crude fell 83 cents to $57.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the number of newly laid off workers seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to its highest level in more than three months.

The markets showed little reaction to comments by Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher who said in prepared remarks that while overall inflation remains high it is possible that inflation has peaked and is “finally heading lower.”

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