Republican Recession Watch: Unemployment Up, Retail Sales Down

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To paraphrase a Nobel prize winner, everything that's supposed to be up is down, and everything that's down should be up.

Republicans on the economy.

Wall Street tumbled Thursday on more disappointing economic news — retailers posted sluggish back-to-school sales reports and the government said the number of workers seeking unemployment benefits spiked last week. The Dow Jones industrials fell more than 200 points.

Investors, highly anxious about the overall state of the economy, were further unsettled when many of the nation's retailers said shoppers curtailed spending last month due to higher gas and food prices. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, beat Wall Street projections because of its discounts.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said new applications for unemployment insurance rose by 15,000 from the previous week. That broadly missed expectations for a fourth-straight week of declines.