Stocks Lower on Weak Hiring Report

Stocks Lower on Weak Hiring Report

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. and global stock indexes were lower for a second day Wednesday, 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.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 91 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,659 as of 12:35 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,052 and the Nasdaq composite lost 30 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,734.

JOB WORRIES: A survey by payroll processor ADP showed U.S. 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 Friday from the Labor Department, which is one of the most closely watched reports on the economic calendar. Economists expect the government to report that U.S. employers created 200,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate remained held steady at 5 percent.

GLOBAL OUTLOOK: Other economic indicators out of Europe were disappointing on Wednesday. Retail sales fell 0.5 percent during March from the previous month. Investors had expected a more modest decline of just 0.1 percent.

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.

LONDON FOG: Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, jumped $16.47, or 7 percent, to $257.45 after the company announced it would not bid for the London StockExchange. The announcement came at the same time Intercontinental was reporting first quarter earnings, which were better than expected.

HESITANCY: While stocks are well off the lows they hit in February, investors remain reluctant to make heavy bets back into 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 in order to make bolder buys, traders say.

"We've run out of gas here. ... We are going to need some sort of catalyst to move this market higher, but I don't know what that catalyst might be. Earnings have been OK, but not strong enough to say it's time to buy," said Rob Bernstone, a managing director in equity trading at Credit Suisse.

NAME YOUR PRICE: Travel company Priceline sank $126.57, or 9 percent, to $1,228.00 after the company warned that profits would slow in the second quarter.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 30 cents to $43.95 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 17 cents to $44.79 a barrel in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was edged down to 1.79 percent from 1.80 percent. The dollar rose to 107.17 yen from 106.41 yen late Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.1489 from $1.1505.

(KA)