Stock market sinks as tech sector slumps
Technology stocks fell sharply in afternoon trading Friday, bringing the broader market lower. Mixed signals in the government's monthly jobs report left investors with little reason to cheer.
The government reported that U.S. employers added more workers to their payrolls last month, but the overall report presented a mixed picture, and the unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 23 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,865 as of 3:04 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 162 points, or 1 percent, to 16,409. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite plunged 111 points, or 2.6 percent, to 4,126.
LEAVING TECH: Technology stocks took a harder fall than the rest of the market. Google and Facebook fell 5 percent, while Microsoft and Amazon fell 3 percent. Utilities, which investors buy to play it safe and collect dividend payments, bucked the downward trend. The Dow Jones Utility Average increased 0.4 percent.
Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and other big corporations whose stocks are often less volatile than the broader market made gains. Coca-Cola climbed 23 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $38.31.
JOBS REPORT: The Labor Department said employers added 192,000 jobs in March. That's less than economists had expected and also below February's total of 197,000. On the bright side, employers added a combined 37,000 more jobs in February and January than the government first estimated. A half-million Americans started looking for work last month, and many of them found jobs.
MUDDLED REACTION: "It's nothing to get too jazzed up about," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners. A lot of investors have argued that the winter weather held the economy back at the start of the year and that things would turn around as the temperature warmed up. The jobs report, Pavlik said, didn't support their case. "A lot of what people have been saying about payrolls isn't true," he said.
GRUBHUB POPS: GrubHub jumped 36 percent in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The online food delivery company, which runs the Seamless website, raised $192.5 million in its initial public offering late Thursday, selling shares at $26 each. GrubHub's stock jumped $9.34 to $35.34.
NO DEAL: News that a Swedish drug company rebuffed a merger offer from Mylan, the generic drugmaker, sent Mylan's stock higher. Mylan surged $1.27, or 3 percent, to $51.13. Meda AB, the Swedish company, didn't explain why its board turned down the proposal.
WRONG TURN: CarMax slumped after the seller of used cars said its quarterly income dropped as an accounting correction outweighed higher demand for cars. The company's stock slumped $2.21, or 5 percent, to $45.35.
THIS WEEK: Earlier in the week, encouraging economic news nudged the stock market to fresh highs. A string of reports on manufacturing and hiring suggest that the economy is thawing out from a rough winter. The S&P 500 index has crept up nearly 1 percent this week.
BONDS AND COMMODITIES: Traders bought U.S. government bonds, pushing Treasury prices up and yields down. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.73 percent from 2.80 percent late Thursday. The price of crude oil rose 85 cents to settle at $101.14 a barrel. Gold gained $18.90 to close at $1,303.50 an ounce.
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