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INFLATION NEWS PUTS STOCKS ON THE SKIDS

The stock market lapsed into a broad decline today, faced with disappointing inflation news.

The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials dropped 9.41 to 2,604.95 in the first half-hour of trading.

Losers outnumbered gainers by more than 2 to 1 in nationwide trading of New York Stock Exchange-listed issues, with 294 up, 706 down and 485 unchanged.

The day got off to a rocky start when the Labor Department reported that the producer price index rose 0.5 percent in November.

That came as an unpleasant surprise to traders who had been expecting a considerably smaller increase, given a recent letup in the rise of oil prices.

Separate government reports showed a 1.7 percent drop in industrial production last month, and a slowing in the operating rate of the nation's factories, mines and utilities to 80.9 percent of capacity from 82.4 percent in October.

Analysts said that mixture of news provided investors with little encouragement about the outlook for the economy and corporate profits.

General Motors dropped 1/2 to 33 3/4 and Ford Motor was down 1/8 at 25 5/8 . The stocks of both auto giants have been trading this week at their lowest levels in more than two years.

The NYSE's composite index of all its listed common stocks lost .67 to 179.44. At the American Stock Exchange, the market value index was down .64 at 306.07.

On Thursday the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 7.92 to 2,614.36.

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