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North American stocks continued their slump on Friday after a U.S. retail sales report for October pointed to what has become a growing possibility: As low as expectations are for the U.S. economy, the economic downturn appears to be even worse than expected.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 326 points, or 3.7 per cent, to 8509. The broader S&P 500 was down 31 points, or 3.4 per cent, to 880.

All 10 subindexes were down, and most of them by a relatively equal degree. Financials were hit the hardest, tumbling 5.3 per cent. Information technology fell 4.8 per cent and energy and industrials each fell 4.5 per cent. Consumer staples were the best off, but even they fell 1.9 per cent.

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In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 259 points, or 2.8 per cent, to 9094.

Information technology stocks were by far the worst off, falling 7.4 per cent after Research In Motion Ltd. fell 8.2 per cent and closed in on a two-year low. Materials fell 2.1 per cent, energy stocks fell 3.3 per cent and financials fell 1.6 per cent. Utilities were the only winning group of stocks, rising 0.7 per cent. Consumer staples suffered a relatively slight decline of just 0.2 per cent.

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