Stocks tumbled for a second consecutive session today after the government's February jobs report revealed employers slashed payrolls last...
NEW YORK — Stocks tumbled for a second consecutive session today after the government’s February jobs report revealed employers slashed payrolls last month, compounding fears that the U.S. economy is succumbing to recession.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 146.70 to 11,893.69, bringing its two-day slide to 370 points. The index has not closed below 11,900 since October 2006, but on Jan. 22 dropped during intraday trading to 11,634.82.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, added 30 cents to close at $27.87 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, tumbled $2.91 to $76.60 after a Wall Street analyst warned of the likelihood of more 787 production delays.
Broader stock indicators also declined. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 10.97 to 1,293.37 — its lowest settlement since August 2006.
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The Nasdaq composite index fell 8.01 to 2,212.49, the lowest the tech-dominated index has finished since September 2006.
The decline in the three major stock indexes to their lowest settlements since 2006 came despite the Federal Reserve’s announcement that it would take steps to aid the credit markets.
The Labor Department’s report that employers cut jobs by 63,000 last month — the most since March 2003 — unnerved investors worried about the health of the economy and who had been expecting a 25,000 gain in jobs. While the unemployment rate fell to 4.8 percent, the decline reflects people leaving the labor force.
The payroll numbers arrived minutes after the Federal Reserve announced it would take fresh steps to ease credit troubles, including boosting the amount of money it will auction to banks.
The central bank said it will increase the size of its March 10 and 24 auctions to banks to $50 billion each. The auctions had been slated for $30 billion apiece and Fed officials said subsequent auctions could be bigger if need be. The Fed also said it would begin a series of repurchase transactions expected to reach $100 billion.
Craig Peckham, an equity trading strategist at Jefferies, said besides the weak job figures, investors were worried about an apparent lack of effectiveness of the Fed’s campaign.
“There is a growing sense that the Fed is trying to pull out all the stops and use all the tools they have but with little net effect,” he said. “It just doesn’t appear to be the quick-fix that investors had been hoping for. What we’ve seen is people continuing to press very bearish bets.”