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Stocks slip as market ends turbulent quarter on quiet note

U.S. markets declined Thursday, March 31, 2016, with

U.S. markets declined Thursday, March 31, 2016, with the Dow and S&P 500 ending the quarter with slight gains. Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

Stocks closed mostly lower on Thursday, with chemicals and agricultural companies taking the largest losses. The price of gold continued its long surge.

A shaky industry outlook hurt agriculture, fertilizer and farm equipment companies.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 31.57 points to 17,685.09. The Standard & Poor’s 500 shed 0.20 percent to end at 2,059.74 The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.01 percent to 4,869.85

The price of gold rose $7.30, or 0.6 percent, to $1,234.20 an ounce. In the first quarter gold rose 16 percent, its largest gain in any quarter since 1986. Gold had fallen for six quarters in a row.

Stocks tumbled in January and early February on concerns that weak growth in several major global economies would pull the U.S. economy into recession. In early February the Dow average and the S&P 500 index were down more than 10 percent from the start of the year. Stocks roared back in March as investors were encouraged by positive economic news in the United States and central bank moves around the world to stimulate economic growth.

For the quarter, the Dow finished up 1.5 percent, and the S&P 500 made a 0.8 percent gain. The Nasdaq lost 2.8 percent. — AP

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