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Stocks fall 1% on jobs report

April 05, 2013|By Andrew Tangel

NEW YORK -- Stocks slumped about 1% in early trading Friday after the Labor Department reported that the economy added a paltry 88,000 jobs last month. 

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 148.68 points, or 1.02%, to 14,457.43 soon after the opening bell.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 17.47 points, or 1.12%, to 1,542.51. The tech-focused Nasdaq was off 45.67 points, or 1.42%, to 3,179.31.

"This was clearly a disappointment," said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist with Prudential Financial.

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Analysts had expected that 190,000 net new jobs would be added last month. The federal government reported that the economy gained 268,000 jobs in February, an upward revision.

Friday's employment report threatens to cool off a strong rally in stocks this year. Stocks rallied more than 10% in the first quarter, riding a wave of stimulus by the Federal Reserve.

Analysts have been looking to the Fed for hints as to when it might begin to turn off its money spigot.

By pumping billions of dollars into the economy -- currently $85 billion a month -- to push down interest rates and make borrowing easier, the Fed has made stocks and other riskier investments more attractive.

"If the data continue to be this weak, the Fed obviously is not going to change course," Krosby said, and "could conceivably feel that it has to do more for growth."

However the stock market ends this week, investors will keep a close eye on first-quarter corporate financial reports. "Earnings season" for the first three months of the year unofficially kicks off with Alcoa Inc. on Monday.

Key will be signs of revenue growth, a measure of demand in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

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