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Stocks' 2nd quarter worst since financial crisis

The stock market closed out a painful second quarter Wednesday and left investors with heavy losses and far more doubts about the economy than they had just months ago.

Stocks had their worst quarterly performance since the financial crisis. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, considered by many professional investors to be the best measure of the market's health, lost 11.9 percent, while the Dow Jones industrial average lost 10 percent. Both indexes are at their lows for 2010.

On the last day of the April-June period, the Dow lost 96 points, and all the big indexes were down about 1 percent.

Meanwhile, Treasury notes and bonds soared during the quarter, driving interest rates sharply lower, as investors turning away from stocks sought a place where their money would be safe. In the early days of the quarter, the yield on the Treasury's 10-year note, used as a base for setting rates on consumer loans including mortgages, was close to 4 percent. By the quarter's end, it had fallen to 2.94 percent.

Using the S&P 500 as a benchmark, stocks had their worst quarterly loss since the fourth quarter of 2008, when the index plunged 22.6 percent. For the first half, the index is down 7.8 percent, its worst first-half showing since the 13.8 percent it loss at the start of 2002.

The market lost about $1.6 trillion in value during the quarter, as measured by the Dow Jones U.S. Total Stock Market Index, which tracks nearly all U.S.-based companies.

The Dow fell 96.28 points, or 1 percent, to 9,774.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 10.53, or 1 percent, to 1,030.71, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 25.94, or 1.2 percent, to 2,109.24.

Losing stocks outnumbered gainers on the New York Stock Exchange by about 2 to 1. Consolidated volume came to 5.3 billion shares, compared with 6.3 billion on Tuesday.

- AP

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