Stocks slide in reaction to hiring slump in March

(AP) NEW YORK - Stocks are pulling back sharply on Wall Street as investors get their first chance to react to a slowdown in hiring in the United States in March.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 152 points to 12,908 shortly before noon Monday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was off 18 at 1,380, and the Nasdaq composite lost 36 points to 3,044.

The losses were broad. All 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 fell, led by financial stocks. Bank of America and Citigroup were both off more than 3 percent.

The U.S. added just 120,000 jobs in March, about half the pace from December through February. The slowdown interrupted the strongest stretch of job growth since the Great Recession. The government released its jobs report on Friday, but the stock market was closed for the Good Friday holiday.

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The stock market had already started to pull back from its strongest first quarter since 1998. The Dow closed as high as 13,264 earlier last week, then lost more than 200 points in three days.

Even before the job number came out, investors were worried that the Federal Reserve does not appear inclined to take further steps to stimulate the economy.

"I believe the Fed is not going to waste any ammunition unless it sees further weakness," said Rex Macey, chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisers.

This week, investors will turn their attention to first-quarter corporate earnings reports. Aluminum maker Alcoa releases its results Tuesday, becoming the first company among the 30 in the Dow to do so. Two major banks, JPMorgan Chase and Well Fargo, report on Friday.

Analysts are expecting quarterly earnings to decline slightly compared with a year earlier. That would break a streak of nine straight quarters of earnings growth since 2009.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.03 percent from 2.06 percent Friday.

Crude oil prices fell over 2 percent, while gold and platinum rose a little less than 1 percent.