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The close: Dow falls for third straight day Add to ...

Stocks fell sharply on Friday, weighed down by a disappointing U.S. payrolls report that points to another sluggish period for the economic recovery – even as the European economy shows increasing signs of deterioration.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,038.27, down 168.32 points or 1.3 per cent – marking the blue-chip index's third straight decline and its biggest one-day dip in nearly a month. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1369.10, down 22.47 points or 1.6 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 11,871.23, down 143.67 points or 1.2 per cent.

The Labor Department reported that U.S. payrolls expanded by just 115,000 jobs in April, far lower than the 160,000 job gains that economists had been expecting – and significantly down from job gains in February and March. However, some observers believed that the disappointment wasn’t deep enough to push the Federal Reserve into taking some sort of stimulative action.

The stock market’s declines were broad, sinking all 30 stocks within the Dow. Financials were particularly hard-hit: Bank of America Corp. fell 3.3 per cent and JPMorgan Chase & Co. fell 2.9 per cent.

Crude oil also fell sharply, slipping beneath the $100 (U.S.) a barrel threshold for the first time since mid-February. It closed in New York at $98.17 a barrel, down $4.37, marking its steepest drop since December. Canadian energy stocks followed: Suncor Energy Inc. fell 3.6 per cent and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. fell 3.7 per cent.

For havens, investors once again turned to the safety of U.S. government bonds. The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury fell below 1.9 per cent (as bond prices rise, yields fall), hitting its lowest level in about three months.

Gold was also popular, rising to $1,645.20 an ounce, up $10.40.

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