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Stocks finish mixed; retail sales up

NEW YORK - Stocks finished another volatile session mixed on Thursday after a spike in wholesale prices touched off inflation concerns and partially overshadowed a strong increase in retail sales last month.

Despite the uneven economic news, an upbeat forecast from Honeywell International Inc. propped up the Dow Jones industrial average.

Wall Street, which has this week paid close attention to steps by the Federal Reserve to stoke greater movement in moribund credit markets, again looked to economic data for signals about the health of the economy.

In one unwelcome development, prices at the wholesale level jumped 3.2 percent in November - their biggest increase in 34 years - after a steep rise in wholesale gasoline prices. But the news wasn't all bad. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose in November by the largest amount in six months, and a Labor Department report showed a drop in new claims filed by those seeking jobless benefits.