U.S. stocks plunge after feeble June jobs report

AP

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Stocks fell on Wall Street Friday after the U.S. government reported that only 80,000 jobs were created in June, the third straight month of weak hiring.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 124 points to 12,772. In other trading on Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 slid 13 points to 1,355, and Nasdaq composite declined 39 points to 2,937

The unwillingness of U.S. employers to add jobs quickly shows that the economy is still struggling three years after the recession officially ended. An average of just 75,000 jobs were created every month in the April-June quarter, far below the 226,000 created every month in the first three months of the year.

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"It shows the U.S. economy is losing momentum," said Sharon Stark, chief market strategist at the brokerage firm Sterne Agee.

On the other hand, Stark said it was a good sign that the number of work hours and average hourly earnings increased last month. "It's not a matter of having the ability to hire, rather a matter of not having the confidence," Stark said. "It's a sign of everyone waiting to see what's next."

The weak jobs report led investors to shift money into low-risk assets. The price of the 10-year Treasury note rose, sending its yield down to 1.54 percent from 1.60 percent late Thursday. The dollar rose against the euro.

The sluggish growth in American jobs comes at a time when the global economy is also hitting the skids. Central banks in Europe and China took action Thursday to prop up their own sliding economies.

The new signs of economic sluggishness around the world sent commodities prices lower. Crude oil dropped $2.34, or 3 percent, to $84.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Demand for oil is expected to be weaker in the second half of the year. The U.S. is the world's biggest oil consumer, and the prospect of less demand tends to push down prices.

Energy stocks followed the price of oil lower. Peabody Energy fell $1.28, or nearly 5 percent, to close at $24.84, while Alpha Natural Resources declined by 60 cents, or 6.5 percent, to $8.67.

One of the reasons stocks fell is that the jobs report wasn't weak enough to prompt the Federal Reserve to take more action stimulate the economy, according to Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Advantage Funds. Jacobsen said there were no signs the economy is heading into another recession.

A new round of bond-buying by the Fed is "quite unlikely," Jacobsen said. The Federal Reserve has made two rounds of bond purchases since the financial crisis to keep interest rates low and encourage banks to lend money.

European markets also lost ground. A week after investors welcomed an agreement among European leaders to help Spain and Italy, the borrowing rates of both countries rose again. That means bond investors are less willing to loan those countries money at favorable rates.

The yield on the 10-year Spanish government bond rose 0.22 percentage point to 6.96 percent earlier in the day. That's a very high level and could eventually force Spain to seek more financial support from its neighbors in Europe.

European stock indexes slid. Germany's DAX and France's CAC-40 each lost 1.9 percent. Spain's benchmark index slumped 3 percent.

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