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Volatile Market Week Brings Promise Of Cheaper Gas

U.S. stock markets finished Friday with a mix of gains and losses, ending a volatile week of steep declines on Wall Street. The release of better-than-expected July job numbers helped early in the day, but the data only seemed to pause, not end, the blood-letting.

But for drivers, there's an upside to the market's losses: The price of gasoline is going to fall, as well, dragged down by the same fears that prompted the flight from stocks.

As the AP reports, "Forecasters say the national average of $3.70 per gallon could fall as much as 35 cents per gallon over the next month. American motorists consume roughly 378 million gallons of gasoline per day, so a 35-cent-per-gallon fall would reduce daily gas spending by about $132.3 million."

Volatility Continues In Stock, Debt Markets

Much of the the market's lack of stability stems from worries that the debt crisis that has struck euro-zone countries such as Greece and Ireland may continue to spread in Europe.

And it's looking like other, healthier countries in Europe, like Germany, may be called on again to help out, Desmond Lachman, a former deputy director for policy of the IMF, told NPR's Alan Greenblatt.

And if an additional trillion euros — or more — isn't available to help stabilize the situation, "then I think it's game over for the euro. We'll have these countries defaulting," Lachman says. "If they don't have that kind of backstop, they can't get access to public financing. We've just seen that with Greece."

As Eyder reported earlier today, the stock portfolio of Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim took a massive hit, as he lost $8 billion in the first four days of this week.

Stocks Down From July Highs

Steve Beckner of Market News International filed this report summarizing Friday's trading for Newscast:

A day after plunging 513 points, the Dow Jones Industrials opened higher, rising 171 points. But the rally gave way to another selling binge that took the blue-chip index down 243 points, before swinging in the other direction.

At the close, the Dow is up more than half a percent. But for the week, it is off nearly 6 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite index racked up more losses Friday, and are down more than 7 and 8 percent, respectively, for the week.

The three indices are in correction mode, having lost well over 10 percent from their July highs.

Employers added 117,000 new jobs the U.S. economy in July, easily beating the gain of 90,000 that had been forecast. And the unemployment rate fell slightly, to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.