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The S&P 500 (SPX) fell 0.4 percent to 1,691.75 at 4 p.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 70.06 points, or 0.5 percent to 15,258.24. About 5.5 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 5.7 percent below the three-month average.

“There is nothing in the economic data I can see that tells me I should worry about a recession,” Sam Wardwell, an investment strategist at Pioneer Investments in Boston, said in a phone interview. His firm oversees about $217 billion. “A government shutdown would be a fiscal cliff that’s big enough in this case to drive the economy into a recession and I think that the market is increasingly worried about that risk because the risk seems to be rising.”

The S&P 500 dropped six of the past seven sessions, including a 1.1 percent slide this week, amid the Congressional impasse over the budget that threatens to shut down the government. The index rose 0.3 percent yesterday, snapping its longest losing streak this year, after an unexpected drop in jobless-benefit claims.

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