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The close: Dow slides Add to ...

Stocks fell on Friday after a disappointing report on U.S. job gains last month fed more uncertainty about the economic recovery.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 12,151.26, down 97.29 points or 0.8 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1300.16, down 12.78 points or 1 per cent – marking its fifth straight week of losses. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 13,517.91, down 1.59 points.

Before trading began, investor sentiment plunged after the Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added a mere 54,000 jobs last month, well below expectations for job gains of about 165,000. At the same time, the unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 9.1 per cent from 9 per cent.

Stocks had made some progress toward recovery by midday, following a better-than-expected reading on U.S. non-manufacturing activity. However, in the end, the jobs report outweighed it.

The U.S. declines were widespread, with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. the only rising stock among the 30 Dow members. It rose 0.2 per cent. Meanwhile, economically sensitive stocks were hit the hardest. Alcoa Inc., DuPont and Walt Disney Co. fell 1.7 per cent each, and Intel Corp. fell 1.6 per cent.

Among key defensive stocks, Coca-Cola Co. and Pfizer Inc. fell 0.8 per cent each.

In Canada, rising energy stocks and financials cancelled out declines by materials, information technology stocks and industrials, leaving the benchmark index relatively unchanged.

Beneath this benign-looking surface, though, Sino-Forest Corp. plunged 63.4 per cent after trading in the Chinese forestry company resumed in Toronto. Trading had been halted on Thursday after an analyst raised concerns about the company’s assets. Sino-Forest defended its integrity in a release on Friday, but presumably investors didn’t find its defence very convincing.

Crude oil, which had fallen below $100 (U.S.) a barrel earlier in the day, closed in New York at $100.22 a barrel, down just 18 cents. Suncor Energy Inc. rose 1.2 per cent and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. rose 0.7 per cent.

Gold moved higher, closing at $1,542.40 an ounce, up $9.70. However, the big Canadian producers were mixed, with Barrick Gold Corp. down 0.4 per cent and Goldcorp Inc. up 0.8 per cent.


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