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Stocks drop on news of weakness

Wall Street retreated Wednesday after most of the day’s economic data showed weakness, including a report that manufacturing growth in October was the slowest in more than three years.

Before the manufacturing report’s release, stocks were up on strong earnings from MasterCard Inc. and an upbeat forecast for private-sector jobs created in October.

That the indexes didn’t fall harder is an indication “this market is in denial,” said Rob Brown, chief investment officer of Genworth Financial Asset Management, an Encino, Calif.-based money manager with $4.7 billion under management. “It wants to focus on the positives and ignore the negatives.”

Bonds rose as debt investors bid up the possibility of a sharp economic downturn.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 4.56 percent from 4.61 percent late Tuesday. The U.S. dollar was mostly higher against other major currencies. Gold prices rose.

There is still a fair amount of contrasting economic data, said Doug Johnston, head of U.S. trading at Canaccord Adams in Boston.

“There are a lot of warning signs, but if it were glaringly obvious, everyone would be on it,” he said.

Crude oil futures dropped Wednesday; a barrel of light crude settled at $58.71, down 2 cents in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil’s July high was more than $78 a barrel.

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