From The Associated Press
NEW YORK —
Investors homed in on bad news about jobs in the U.S. and Europe Wednesday. They sent stocks down in early trading, erasing the hope generated the day before about a brisk May for the market.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 54 points to 13,226 in the first half-hour of trading. The day before it closed at the highest point in four years, propelled by encouraging reports about U.S. manufacturing.
The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 8 points to 1,398. The Nasdaq composite index fell 9 points to 3,042.
An unemployment report underscored worries about Europe’s debt crisis. The 17 countries that use the euro reported that unemployment rose to 10.9 percent in March, the highest since the euro launched in 1999.
Concerns about U.S. jobs growth also roiled investors. Payroll processor ADP said that U.S. businesses added 119,000 jobs in April, far lower than the 201,000 added in March. The report covers hiring only in the public sector and can vary sharply from the government’s broader employment report, which is due out Friday.
Stocks fell across the board. All 10 industries groups in the S&P 500 index were down, led by energy companies.
Chesapeake Energy plunged nearly 10 percent. The drilling company, under fire for handing its CEO big pay even when its stock was falling, announced Tuesday it would strip its chief executive of the chairman’s title. The CEO, Aubrey McClendon, was scheduled to address analysts Wednesday morning.
Some companies fell even after reporting higher profits.
MasterCard’s first-quarter profit shot higher thanks to more card use overseas, but the stock fell 2 percent. Comcast, the cable company that owns a majority stake in NBC Universal, also reported a higher profit thanks partly to Super Bowl advertising. But its stock also fell 2 percent in early trading.
Ascena Retail Group was an exception on an off day, shooting up nearly 10 percent after announcing it will buy Charming Shoppes, the company that owns women’s clothing chain Lane Bryant.