Stocks fell on Wednesday following a disappointing report on U.S. private-sector employment, but managed to pare losses toward the end of trading.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,268.57, down 10.75 points or 0.1 per cent, recovering about 77 points from its earlier low. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1402.31, down 3.51 points or 0.3 per cent – after falling below 1394 earlier. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,230.12, down 102.67 points or 0.8 per cent.
The moves followed the ADP employment report, which showed that U.S. employers added just 119,000 positions in April, versus expectations from economists for employment gains of 170,000. The disappointment comes ahead of the official nonfarm payrolls report from the Labor Department on Friday.
At the same time, U.S. factory orders fell 1.5 per cent in March. While that was in line with expectations, it marks the biggest decline since March 2009.
The weak economic reports come as economists and investors try to get a handle on how bad the European economy is, and whether the U.S. economy can withstand a deep slide in overseas economic activity. The European purchasing managers’ index fell to its lowest level since June 2009, while the unemployment rate rose to 10.9 per cent in March, up from 10.8 per cent in February – marking a record high for the euro era.
MasterCard Inc. fell 1 per cent, despite reporting better-than-expected quarterly earnings that rose 25 per cent over last year. Barrick Gold Corp. fell 2.7 per cent after reporting that its earnings rose 3 per cent over last year. And Loblaw Cos. Ltd. fell 0.7 per cent after its earnings fell 22 per cent from last year.
In other moves, Research In Motion Ltd. fell 5.1 per cent, a day after unveiling its upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform. U.S. banks were also weak, with Bank of America Corp. down 1.8 per cent and JPMorgan Chase & Co. down 1.4 per cent.