Stocks dropped today as Wal-Mart shares slid at the start of the holiday shopping season, and Boeing and United Technologies fell in response to a possible bankruptcy filing at United Airlines.

Even so, the Dow Jones industrial average ended higher for the eighth straight week and had its biggest two-month percentage advance since 1987.

The string of weekly gains is the longest in more than 41/2 years.

"The market has accomplished all it can," said James Awad, who oversees $900 million as chairman of Awad Asset Management in New York. "It should stay where it is until we get a better fix on the fourth quarter and first quarter. If we go much higher now, it will be at the expense of next year."

The Dow slid 35.59 points, or 0.4 percent, to 8896.09, closing in New York at 1 p.m., three hours earlier than normal, after the Thanksgiving holiday. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 2.56 points, or 0.3 percent, to 936.31. The Nasdaq composite index declined 9.16 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1478.78.

For the week, the Dow rose 1 percent. The S&P climbed 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.7 percent. The latter two have advanced seven of the past eight weeks.

The Dow has risen 5.9 percent in November. It is up 17.2 percent since the end of September. For the month, the S&P 500 gained 5.7 percent and the Nasdaq rose 11.2 percent.

Retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target fell on concerns that consumers will spend less than forecast during the holiday season. Merchants are offering discounts to lure shoppers who have been slowing their spending amid concerns about layoffs and stock market declines.

Wal-Mart dropped 94 cents, to $53.90. Target slid 52 cents, to $34.78. Kohl's fell $1.35, to $68.50.

UAL, owner of United Airlines, slumped $1.12, to $2.51. United's 13,000 mechanics rejected proposed pay and benefit cuts Wednesday that the world's second-largest airline has said it needs to help win a government loan guarantee and avoid a bankruptcy filing.

Boeing fell 97 cents, to $34.05. UAL is the biggest client of Boeing's finance unit. United Technologies, whose Pratt & Whitney unit makes jet engines, dropped $1.36, to $62.47. The two accounted for about half of the Dow's drop.

Economic reports this week showed gains in employment, manufacturing and consumer confidence.

"The next couple of years, we will see improving economic activity," said Robert Morris, who oversees $38 billion as chief of equity investments at Lord, Abbett & Co.

"We're going to see profitability coming back."

Best Buy rose 65 cents, to $27.68, and Circuit City Stores gained 46 cents, to $9.76. Goldman Sachs analyst Matthew Fassler said promotions by the retailers "appear comparable" to those available at this time last year, suggesting that those marketing efforts "will not topple profits."

Sealed Air surged $13.72, to $38.20, as the maker of Bubble Wrap settled asbestos litigation.

Other companies facing asbestos litigation also rose. Halliburton climbed $2.18, to $21.37, and Georgia-Pacific surged $3.05, to $20.62.

WPP Group's U.S. shares jumped $2.44, to $41.62. The owner of Young & Rubicam is among advertising agencies whose revenue is expected to rise as the economy recovers.

Other Indicators

* The New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 1.02, to 495.27; the American Stock Exchange index fell 1.56, to 812.66; and the Russell index of 2,000 smaller-company stocks fell 3.88, to 406.36.

* Declining issues narrowly outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE and the Nasdaq. Trading volume fell on the NYSE to 643.5 million shares, from 1.36 billion on Wednesday. On the Nasdaq, volume totaled 801 million shares, down from 1.7 billion.

* The price of the Treasury's benchmark 10-year note rose $3.44 per $1,000 invested, and its yield fell to 4.22 percent, from 4.26 percent late Wednesday.

* The dollar rose against the Japanese yen and fell against the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 122.60 yen, up from 122.35 yen late Wednesday, and a euro bought 99.40 cents, up from 99.02 cents.

* Oil did not trade today on the New York Mercantile Exchange because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

* Gold did not trade in New York because of the holiday.