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MARKETS END HORRID QUARTER

Associated Press

NEW YORK - 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 a few months ago.

Stocks had their worst quarter since the financial crisis. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, considered by many 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.

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.

Investors spent much of the quarter repeating the same questions they had a year earlier: Can the economy continue its recovery? Analysts say that the answer most likely is yes but that traders are realizing it won't be easy.

Some analysts said the rocky second quarter was to be expected, given the market's history of recovering from big drops like the one stocks suffered during the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist of U.S. equity research at Standard & Poor's, dates the end of the latest recession to August of last year. That means the now-complete second quarter is the third full quarter since the recession's end. He noted that stocks drops are not uncommon in such a period.

"Investors anticipate what's going to happen (in a recovery), and sometimes they overanticipate," Stovall said. After a couple of quarters pass, investors go through a "reality readjustment."

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