Weak jobs report sends US stocks lower
US and global stock indexes moved lower for a second day following a dismal report on job creation that gave investors concern over the state of the economy.
The data followed a round of economic news out of China and Europe a day earlier that also suggested sluggish growth.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 99.65 points, or 0.6%, to 17,651.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 12.25 points, or 0.6%, to 2,051.12 and the Nasdaq composite fell 37.58 points, or 0.8%, to 4,725.64.
Stocks started lower and remained there throughout the day, following a survey by payroll processor ADP which showed US companies hired workers at the slowest pace in three years last month.
ADP said private companies hired 156,000 workers in April, down from 194,000 in March. The figure was significantly worse than expected. The weak reading bodes poorly for the broader job market survey due out on Friday from the Labour Department, which is one of the most closely-watched reports on the economic calendar.
Economists expect the government to report that US employers created 200,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate remained held steady at 5%.
Other economic indicators out of Europe were disappointing on Wednesday. Retail sales fell 0.5% during March from the previous month. Investors had expected a more modest decline of 0.1%.
Financial information company Markit said its purchasing managers' index for the region, a gauge of business activity, slipped to 53 in April from 53.1 the previous month. Though still above the 50 threshold indicating expansion, the reading has fallen from the start of the year.
While stocks are well off the lows they hit in February, investors remain reluctant to make heavy bets back into the stock market. The S&P 500 has bounced off the 2,100-point mark several times in the last six months, most recently as last week. That means investors feel stocks are too expensive to make big bets, and are waiting to see more positive data or earnings, traders say.
Among individual companies, Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, jumped 17.51 dollars, or 7%, to 258.49 after the company announced it would not bid for the London Stock Exchange. The announcement came at the same time Intercontinental was reporting first quarter earnings, which were better than expected.
Travel company Priceline sank 101.60, or 7.5%, to 1,253.04 after the company warned that profits would slow in the second quarter.
Benchmark US crude added 13 cents to close at 43.78 dollars per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 35 cents to close at 44.62 a barrel in London. In other energy trading in New York, wholesale petrol fell two cents to 1.49 a barrel, heating oil fell half a penny to 1.33 a gallon and natural gas rose six cents to 2.14 per 1,000 cubic feet.
US bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note edged down to 1.77% from 1.80%. The dollar rose to 106.93 yen from 106.41 yen late on Tuesday. The euro fell to 1.1498 dollars from 1.1505.
Gold fell 17.40 to 1,274.40 dollars an ounce, silver fell 20 cents to 17.28 an ounce and copper fell three cents to 2.18 a pound.