STATE OF BUSINESS: Searching for Signs

As U.S. businessmen last week anxiously looked for signs of a fall upsurge, there were few sights to cheer them. Stock buyers took such a doleful view that the Dow-Jones industrial average suffered an 8.58-point drop to 612.27—its sharpest one-day decline in more than six months —before steadying and rising at week's end. Best news came from retailers helped by record sales of back-to-school clothing and heavy traffic in auto supplies and small appliances. Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Spiegel both reported that August sales soared to alltime peaks for that month. Though the auto industry carried a heavy...

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