Wall Street ended an erratic session Wednesday with a lopsided loss as blue chips fell on investors' concerns over the health of financial companies and high-tech stocks fared better on news from the semiconductor sector. The Dow Jones industrials fell more than 100 points, but the other major indexes finished with single-digit losses.
The market was battling all the forces that have pummeled it in recent weeks: weak economic data, the price of oil and the credit crisis.
The Commerce Department said retail sales slipped 0.1 percent as rising prices helped offset the effect of economic stimulus payments to U.S. households. Excluding a big drop in sales of automobiles, retail sales rose 0.4 percent. But even on that basis it was the weakest showing in five months.
The Dow fell 109.51, or 0.94 percent, to 11,532.96.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 3.76, or 0.29 percent, to 1,285.83, while the tech-focused Nasdaq composite index fell 1.99, or 0.08 percent, to 2,428.62.