Dow, S&P 500 fall as private-sector hiring spurs worry

Wed May 2, 2012 5:44pm EDT
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By Edward Krudy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Dow edged lower on Wednesday as data showed that private sector hiring fell far more than expected in April, sparking concerns that Friday's U.S. jobs report will also disappoint investors.

Private employers added 119,000 jobs in April, well short of the 177,000 expected, the ADP report showed. That sparked market rumors that Friday's payrolls data will show the economy added just 125,000 to 150,000 jobs last month, well below a Reuters consensus forecast of 170,000.

"If fewer and fewer people are participating in this recovery it suggests underlying weakness that we have to address, and so far policymakers' answers have been 'easy credit' - I think we need to go beyond that," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago.

The report came on the heels of more glum news from Europe. Euro zone factory activity contracted again last month, with the purchasing managers index, seen as a measure of how the economy will fare, falling to its lowest level since June 2009.

Energy was the worst performer among the 10 major S&P sectors, sapped by a 14.6 percent drop in Chesapeake Energy Corp CHK.N to $16.74. The S&P energy index .GSPE lost 1.6 percent.

Chesapeake was the most actively traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange, hit by disappointing quarterly results and as Reuters reported a new disclosure about business interests of the company's chairman.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dropped 10.75 points, or 0.08 percent, to 13,268.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 3.52 points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,402.30. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC gained 9.41 points, or 0.31 percent, to 3,059.85.

After the bell, shares in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc GMCR.O crashed 40 percent. The company slashed its full-year sales forecast after demand for its K-Cup coffee refills fell well short of Wall Street expectations.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid