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.