Stocks fall after weak reports on hiring, services11:17 am | April 3, 2013
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell in early trading on Wall Street Wednesday after reports on hiring and growth at service companies dampened optimism about the outlook for the U.S. economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,636 as of 10:26 a.m. EDT. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped six points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,564 points. Both indexes closed at record highs the day before.
U.S. service companies kept growing at a solid pace in March, but the expansion was less than economists were expecting. The Institute for Supply Management’s index of service companies fell to 54.4 in March from 56 a month earlier. The report was the weakest in seven months and fell short of what analysts were expecting.
Separately, payrolls processor ADP reported that U.S. employers added 158,000 jobs last month, down from February’s gain of 237,000, as construction firms held off on hiring. The ADP report is often seen as a preview for the government’s broader survey on employment, which is due out Friday.
The stock market has gotten off to a strong start in 2013. The Dow rose 11.3 percent in the first three months of the year thanks to a recovery in housing and signs that the job market is improving. Strong company earnings and economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve have also sent the market higher.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, fell from 1.86 percent to 1.83 percent.
In other trading, the Nasdaq composite dipped nine points, or 0.1 percent to 3,245.
Among stocks making big moves;
— Zynga rose 40 cents, or 13 percent, to $3.46 after the online game maker said two casino games would debut in the United Kingdom Wednesday.
— Monsanto rose $2.05 to $105.7 after the agricultural products company said its profit increased 22 percent on strong sales of biotech seeds in Brazil and other emerging markets. The company also increased its forecast for full-year earnings.
— ConAgra Foods fell 19 cents to $35.36 after the company reported a third-quarter profit that fell shy of Wall Street expectations. The maker of Chef Boyardee and Hebrew National hot dogs booked charges related to its acquisition of Ralcorp and struggled to increase sales for its existing brands.