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Stocks Fall on Manufacturing Weakness

An unexpected skid in the Philadelphia Fed's February survey fanned recession fears Thursday

Stocks closed lower Thursday as weaker-than-expected reports on Philadelphia-area manufacturing and the Conference Board's gauge of leading economic indicators stoked worries the economy may be falling into a recession. Investors also weighed reports on first-time unemployment filings and leading economic indicators. Bonds surged in a rebound from Wednesday's slide. Gold and platinum futures hit record highs, while crude oil moved below the $100 mark.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average finished lower by 142.96 points, or 1.15%, at 12,284.30. The broader S&P 500 index fell 17.50 points, or 1.29%, to 1,342.53. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index shed 27.32 points, or 1.17%, to 2,299.78.