US STOCKS-Wall St falls on weaker data, N. Korea comments

Wed Apr 3, 2013 3:10pm EDT
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* ADP employment report comes in below expectations

* U.S. defense secretary says North Korea a danger

* Indexes down: Dow 0.6 pct, S&P 0.9 pct, Nasdaq 1 pct

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, April 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday as weaker-than-expected economic data caused investors to trim positions ahead of Friday's jobs report and U.S. defense secretary expressed concern over North Korea.

A report on private-sector jobs showed less-than-expected hiring in March, which some analysts saw as a discouraging sign ahead of Friday's Department of Labor report.

Stocks extended losses in afternoon trading, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq falling more than 1 percent. The Pentagon said it was sending a missile defense system to Guam in the coming weeks, while U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cited a "real and clear" danger from North Korea.

The drop put the S&P 500 on track for its biggest daily percentage loss since Feb. 25, with energy and financial sectors leading the decline. The S&P 500 financial index was down 1.7 percent.

The S&P 500, up roughly 10 percent since the start of the year, has come close to its intraday record level of 1,576.09 in the past few sessions before pulling back, and analysts said the market is facing bearish technicals after its strong run.   Continued...