Weak jobs report batters US stocks

Agence France-Presse
US stocks stumbled after a disappointing jobs report showed a slowdown in hiring

NEW YORK, United States of America – US stocks tumbled Monday, April 9, after last week’s disappointing jobs report showed a slowdown in hiring that raised concerns about the strength of the economic recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell one percent, as Wall Street got its first chance to react to the government’s labor data, released when the US markets were closed for Good Friday.

The sell-off “is understandable” after the government reported the economy created a meager 120,000 jobs in March, well below analyst forecasts of 200,000, said Dick Green at Briefing.com.

“That was indeed a disappointment and while still a solid increase, reduces the underlying optimism towards the economic outlook that had been created by three straight prior months of in excess of 200,000,” he said.

The Dow finished the session at 12,929.59, down 130.55 points.

The broad-market S&P 500 shed 15.88 points (1.14 percent) to 1,382.20, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 33.42 points (1.08 percent) to 3,047.08.

The weak US jobs report raised speculation that the Federal Reserve may yet have to apply fresh stimulus to juice growth.

“Markets may ratchet up expectations for additional quantitative easing by the Fed, but we believe the odds are less than 50 percent,” said Ryan Sweet at Moody’s Analytics.

Investors awaited a speech by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke in Georgia later Monday, on the subject of fostering financial stability.

Financial stocks took a beating. Bank of America shed 3.3 percent, Morgan Stanley (2.2 percent), Citigroup (2.4 percent) and JPMorgan Chase (1.0 percent).

Shares of AOL skyrocketed 43.3 percent to $26.40 after the struggling Internet pioneer announced it would sell more than 800 patents to Microsoft in a $1.06 billion deal. Microsoft fell 1.3 percent.

AT&T selling Yellow Pages

In other corporate news, telecom giant AT&T said it was selling its Yellow Pages unit called YP Holdings LLC to the equity firm Cerberus in a deal worth $950-M. AT&T shares slipped 1.0%.

Door-to-door beauty products seller Avon lost 3.1% after announcing a new chief executive, Sherilyn McCoy, snatched from Johnson & Johnson.

US stocks finished mixed Thursday, with the Dow down 0.11%, the Nasdaq up 0.40% and S&P 500 flat.

Bond prices rose as yields fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.04%, down 0.14 point, while that on the 30-year Treasury dropped to 3.18, down 0.14 point. – Agence France-Presse