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Winning streak comes to an end

NEW YORK – The stock market closed mostly lower Friday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to its first losing week of 2012, after the government reported that economic growth was slower at the end of last year than economists expected.

The Dow spent the whole day in the red. It ended down 74 points, or 0.6 percent, at 12,660.46. The loss snapped a three-week winning streak for the Dow, which fell 60 points for the week but is still up 3.6 percent for the year.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 struggled above even with an hour to go in trading, but it lost the gains and finished down 2.10 points at 1,316.33. The S&P finished the week up a sliver – 0.95 points.

The Nasdaq composite, which has more than doubled the Dow’s gain for the year, edged up 11.27 to 2,816.55. It rose about 30 points this week.

Economic growth for October through December came in at an annual rate of 2.8 percent. That was the fastest of 2011 but lower than the 3 percent that economists were looking for.

Utility companies led the way down with a fall of 1.3 percent. Most of the other nine industries in the S&P also fell, but only slightly, continuing a curious trading pattern this year: Trading has been calm in the past four weeks, a big change from the violent moves up and down that marked much of 2011.

Friday was the 17th day in a row of moves of less than 100 points up or down for the Dow. The last time the index had a longer period of such small moves was a 34-day stretch that started Dec. 3, 2010.

Despite the drift lower, investors displayed some bullishness.

Roughly two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. And the Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks rose nearly 2 percent for the week. Investors tend to sell stocks in the Russell when they’re worried, not buy them, because smaller firms often don’t have much cash and other resources when times get tough.