Wall Street has ended an erratic session with a moderate loss as continuing violence in the Middle East reminded investors that the market could face problems beyond the recession. The collapse of a Dow Chemical Co. joint venture, meanwhile, intensified Wall Street's economic worries.
Investors remained cautious in a holiday-shortened week, unwilling to make many big bets in the final three days of trading for 2008. Israel's escalating attacks against Gaza's Hamas rulers made traders more hesitant to buy.
Crude oil rose $2.31 to $40.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil has fallen more than $100 from its peak of $147.27 a barrel on July 11 as a slowing economy curbed demand.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 31 points to the 8,483 level.