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Stocks fall after mixed economic reports

Trader Ronald Guidone works on the floor of

Trader Ronald Guidone works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. Disappointing April sales results from big retailers put a damper on stocks. (May 3, 2012) Credit: AP Photo/Richard Drew

Wall Street gnawed on a muddle of economic data and corporate earnings news Thursday, then sent stock indexes lower for a second day.

Disappointing April sales results from big retailers set the bleak tone early on. Costco, Macy's and Target, among others, reported sales that were weaker than analysts had predicted. Colder weather and renewed concerns about the economy weighed on shoppers.

GM shares fell 2.44 percent after the automaker said its first-quarter profit declined, mainly because of weakness in Europe.

Conflicting economic indicators offered little direction for major U.S. stock indexes. They opened down, rose slightly in the first 15 minutes of trading then turned lower. Eight of the 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 61.98 points to 13,206.59. The S&P 500 dropped 10.74 to 1,391.57. The Nasdaq composite average slid 35.55 to 3,024.30.

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