Bad Jobs Data Trigger Freefall

Dow off 256.54, zooms past 13K on sluggish growth report
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2008 3:37 PM CST
Speciailist Gerald Petti, second left, directs trading at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008. Wall Street closed narrowly mixed Thursday as investors traded cautiously...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The worst employment-growth report since August 2003 sent the markets into a nosedive today, with the Dow ending the day off 256.54 to 12,800.18. Only 18,000 non-farm jobs were added in December, the Wall Street Journal reports, and the unemployment rate rose to 5.0%, its highest level in 2 years. The Nasdaq plummeted 98.03 to 2,504.65; the S&P lost 35.53 to 1,411.63.

“After this report, I'd have to say the chances of recession are about 50-50," one gloomy economist said. Good jobs data often buoyed the Street’s spirits during 2007’s mortgage and energy troubles, but fears are mounting that higher unemployment could erode consumption, creating a domino effect. Tech stocks may suffer in particular: Sector bellwether Intel was down 9% to end the week.