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U.S. industrial production fell twice as much as forecast in December as companies pulled back to try to weather the global economic slowdown. Auto output fell to the lowest in more than a quarter century.

State Street Corp (), the world’s largest money manager for institutions, reported on Tuesday billions of dollars of unrealized investment losses and a sharp drop in quarterly profit, causing its shares to plunge as much as 55 percent.

Export-reliant Asian economies showed more signs of weakness on Friday, with Japan’s industrial output diving at a record pace and South Korea warning it faces an “unprecedented crisis” as global demand wilts.

Gasoline prices declined for the fourth straight day on Tuesday, falling below the $1.66 per gallon mark, according to a national survey of credit card swipes at gasoline stations. The national average fell .4 cents to $1.659 per gallon for regular unleaded, according to motorist group AAA. A recent 86-day streak of declines ended at $1.656 in mid-December when prices bumped slightly higher.

GMAC won Federal Reserve approval to become a bank holding company Wednesday, enabling the auto lender to tap the Treasury’s $700 billion financial bailout fund and help keep General Motors Corp. in business.

During the first six months of 2008, commodities looked to be the savior of investors who were losing money in the stock market. In the second half, particularly for those who had invested in oil, futures contracts were their undoing.

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