Further cautionary comments on inflation from a Federal Reserve official sent stocks sharply lower Thursday, as investors continued worrying about more interest-rate hikes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 30.26, or 0.3 percent, to 10,287.10, adding to a loss of 218.12 over the previous two sessions. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 4.90, or 0.4 percent, to 1,191.49. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 18.94, or 0.9 percent, to 2,084.08.

Despite a drop in crude futures to a two-month lows with a barrel of light crude slipping $1.43 to $61.36 Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher said for the second time this week that core inflation was near the top of the Fed's comfort zone, signaling to Wall Street that further rate increases may be on the way. "As a result, we are in a tightening phase of monetary policy," said Fisher, who is a voting member of the Fed's policy committee.

And while higher gasoline prices and the fallout from Hurricane Katrina resulted in lukewarm sales for some retailers, two local companies, Guess Inc. and Hot Topic Inc., saw their shares climb after reporting positive September same-store sales. Guess soared 17.7 percent to settle at $24.43 after the L.A.-based firm said its September same-store sales surged 14.2 percent, beating analysts' estimates of a 3.2 percent increase. Hot Topic rose 8.1 percent to $15.77 after the City of Industry-based mall retailer reported its sales results late Wednesday.

Among other local companies, shares of First Regional Bancorp fell 8.5 percent to $71.99 after the L.A.-based holding company for First Regional Bank reported its third-quarter profit more than doubled during a period of strong loan and deposit growth. But despite strong results, investors pulled out of the stock, noting potential long-term challenges resulting from unpredictable events such as rising oil prices and natural disasters.

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