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Wall Street endures worst losses since 1931

Though the Dow Jones gained 1.25% when Wall Street closed its last session of 2008, the New York stock market ended the year with a loss of 33.84%, its worst performance since 1931 and the Great Depression.

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AFP - US stocks rose modestly Wednesday as Wall Street closed out a catastrophic year that saw key indexes post their worst annual performance since the Great Depression.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average managed a gain for the day of 108.00 points (1.25 percent) to 8,776.39, ending the year with a loss of 33.84 percent, the worst annual loss since 1931.

The broad-market Standard & Poor's 500 index also suffered its worst performance in 77 years, losing 38.49 percent, despite Wednesday's rise of 12.61 points (1.42 percent) to 903.25.

The Nasdaq, an index created in 1971, lost 40.54 percent on the year, its worst annual result in history, after Wednesday's rise of 26.33 points (1.70 percent) to 1,577.03.

Chris Konstantinos at Riverfront Investment Group said traders opened the day ready "to breathe a sigh of relief that 2008 is about to be behind us," which may have accounted for the upbeat mood.

"While we know that it's irrational to think that one's problems such as the economic turmoil of the last 18 months will simply disappear with the start of a new year, there is something comforting about the idea of turning over a new leaf," he added.

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