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Disappointing Jobs Data Drags Stocks Lower In Early Trading - U.S. Commentary

5/4/2012 10:03 AM ET

With traders reacting negatively to another disappointing jobs report, stocks have moved notably lower in early trading on Friday. The major averages have dropped firmly into negative territory, adding to the losses posted in the previous session.

The major averages have moved roughly sideways in recent trading, lingering near their lows for the young session. The Dow is down 89.08 points or 0.7 percent at 13,117.51, the Nasdaq is down 35.09 points or 1.2 percent at 2,989.21 and the S&P 500 is down 11.70 points or 0.8 percent at 1,379.87.

Much of the early weakness on Wall Street stems from the release of a report from the Labor Department showing much weaker than expected job growth in the month of April.

The report showed that employment increased by 115,000 jobs in April following an upwardly revised increase of 154,000 jobs in March. Economists had expected an increase of about 165,000 jobs compared to the addition of 120,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

While the Labor Department also said that the unemployment rate edged down to 8.1 percent in April from 8.2 percent in March, the drop was largely due to a decrease in the size of the labor force.

The report has added to recent economic uncertainty, although selling pressure has been somewhat subdued amid optimism that the data could lead to further action from the Federal Reserve.

Oil service stocks are seeing substantial weakness in early trading, moving sharply lower along with the price of crude oil. With crude for June delivery falling $2.25 to $100.29 a barrel, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is down by 2.3 percent.

Significant weakness has also emerged among steel stocks, which are under pressure amid concerns about the outlook for demand. Trucking, telecom, and railroad stocks are also posting notable losses.

Meanwhile, gold stocks are bucking the downtrend, benefiting from an increase by the price of the precious metal. The NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index is up by 1.2 percent, bouncing off a two-year low.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Friday, although the Japanese markets remained closed. Australia's All Ordinaries Index and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index both ended the day down by 0.8 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 1.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both down by 1.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved higher on the heels of the disappointing jobs report. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 2.8 basis points at 1.896 percent.

by RTT Staff Writer

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