News Summary: Stocks fall on mixed signals

News Summary: Stock market's December slump continues as economic reports give mixed signals

Associated Press

SLUGGISH START: The stock market continued its slow start to December. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped for a fourth straight day, its longest losing streak since September.

MIXED SIGNALS: Investors got mixed messages from two economic reports on Wednesday. One showed a surge in hiring, the other said that service growth had slowed.

SEARS SALES: Sears slumped after billionaire hedge-fund manager Eddie Lampert, who is also chairman and chief executive of the company, reduced his stake in the department store chain to less than half.

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