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Stocks drop in first response to weak March hiringStocks drop, sending Dow to fourth loss in a row, in first response to weak March jobs data
NEW YORK (AP) ' Stocks pulled back sharply Monday after a calendar quirk gave investors a long weekend to brood over disappointing March jobs growth. The Dow Jones industrial average hit its lowest point in almost a month.
The Dow sank as much as 156 points and by midafternoon had spent the whole trading day below 13,000. It touched its lowest level during a trading day since March 12, also the last day it closed below 13,000.
The Dow was down 90 points at 12,969 and headed for its fourth loss in a row. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was off 11 at 1,387, also on track for a four-day losing streak. The Nasdaq composite lost 23 points to 3,058.
Losses in stocks were broad. All 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 fell, with financial stocks the worst performers. Bank of America and Citigroup were both off about 2 percent.
Investors bought bonds, sending the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note to 2.03 percent, down 0.03 percentage points from Friday. Yields also fell for longer-term U.S. bonds.
The country added just 120,000 jobs in March, about half the pace from December through February, interrupted the strongest stretch of job growth since the Great Recession.
The government released its jobs report on Friday, but the stock market was closed for the Good Friday holiday. The bond market was open a half-day Friday, but investors mostly had to wait to react.
The jobs report only darkened the mood in a market that had already started to pull back from its strongest first quarter since 1998. The Dow closed as high as 13,264 earlier last week, then lost more than 200 points in three days.
Investors had started to get worried because the Federal Reserve indicated that it would not take further steps to stimulate the economy.
"I believe the Fed is not going to waste any ammunition unless it sees further weakness," said Rex Macey, chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisers.
This week, investors turn their attention to first-quarter earnings reports. Aluminum maker Alcoa releases results Tuesday, the first of the 30 companies in the Dow. Two major banks, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, report Friday.
Analysts are expecting quarterly earnings to decline slightly compared with a year earlier. That would break a streak of nine quarters of earnings growth since 2009.
Crude oil prices fell 1.5 percent, while gold and platinum rose a little less than 1 percent.
In other corporate news:
' AOL shot up 47 percent after the company agreed to sell hundreds of patents and patent applications to Microsoft for a little more than $1 billion. The company plans to return some of the cash to shareholders.
' Avon fell 3.5 percent after the struggling beauty products company named a former executive at Johnson & Johnson, Sherilyn McCoy, to be its CEO. Investors read it as a signal that Avon will fend off acquisition overtures.
' Sherwin-Williams Co. gained more than 1 percent after the company raised its forecast for first-quarter profit following a 20 percent surge in sales at its paint stores.
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