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Stocks seal 3Q gains despite rough end

Sep. 29, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- Stocks posted solid 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 indices are still up 4 percent or more for three months. They're ahead 10 percent or more for the year.

Investors got some more of that iffy economic data on Friday. The Commerce Department said consumer spending rose a half-percent last month, compared to July. That was a big jump -- but it was driven by higher has 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.