As Hurricane Charley churned into Florida, a storm surge of economic events washed over Wall Street today.
Stocks struggled to stay afloat amidst oil-slicked waves of bad news.
Crude oil prices jumped a full dollar a barrel to $46.50, yet another record high on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where crude futures climbed 5.8 percent for the week.
Because of costly oil imports, the nation's trade deficit swelled to a record $55.8 billion in June. Treasury Secretary John Snow said the trade problem is being exacerbated by slowing growth around the world, which is cutting demand for U.S.-made goods.
And consumer confidence sank in the mid-month survey by the University of Michigan, not just falling, but falling much more than even pessimistic economists were expecting.
Even the one potentially positive economic report today was subject to a negative interpretation. Wholesale prices inched up just 0.1 percent in July, the Labor Department reported. While that certainly means inflation is under control, it also could be seen as a sign of a weak economy.
The view that the economy is weakening was also reflected in the bond market, where interest rates continued to fall. Bond traders are ignoring Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's assurance that the slowdown is only temporary. While Greenspan raised interest rates on short-term rates on Tuesday, rates on 10-year bonds have fallen every day since then.
Bobbing between small gains and losses, stocks closed slightly higher for the day.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 11 points, closing at 9,825.36, up 10 points for the week.
The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index picked up a point and a half, closing at 1,064.80, up a single point for the week.
The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index gained five points thanks to the leadership of Dell Computer, which broke the pattern of disappointing profits for technology companies by reporting a 29 percent gain. But at Friday's close of 1,757.22, the Nasdaq was off nearly 20 points for the week.