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Stock Futures Plunge on Weak Jobs News

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were plunging Monday, pointing to a fourth straight session of losses for the broad market as investors caught up with Friday's disheartening job news and stood by for the kickoff of earnings season.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were plummeting 117 points, or 139 points below fair value, at 12,861.

Futures for the S&P 500 were down 14.9 points, or 18.5 points below fair value, at 1375. Futures for the Nasdaq were easing 27 points, or 31.9 points below fair value, at 2727. The stock market was closed Friday in observance of the Good Friday holiday.

The government announced Friday that nonfarm payrolls increased 120,000 in March, far short of the 200,000 gain that economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had been expecting. The unemployment rate fell to 8.2% from 8.3% in February. The market expected the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 8.3%.

The average workweek for private-sector employees slipped by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours in March. Average hourly earnings rose by 5 cents, or 0.2%, to $23.39.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said employment increased in manufacturing, food services and health care but fell in retail.

Private-sector payrolls increased by 121,000, while government employment was virtually unchanged.

No major domestic economic data were scheduled for release on Monday.

All eyes will turn to first-quarter earnings season Tuesday, which kicks off after the bell with results from Alcoa (AA). The aluminum company is the first Dow component to report each quarter.

European stock exchanges were closed on Monday, as were the markets in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Thailand and South Africa. Japan's Nikkei Average fell 1.5% as China's inflation rate rose to 3.6% in March and a strengthening yen hurt shares of exporters.

In corporate news, Sony (SNE - Get Report) is cutting 10,000 jobs, or roughly about 6% of its global work force, according to a report.

The layoffs will come by the end of 2012, Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported Monday. Sony's new CEO Kazuo Hirai will hold a briefing on Thursday. Sony has posted four straight years of losses, hurt by weakness at its LCD television unit.

Labor talks are continuing between AT&T (T - Get Report) and about 40,000 AT&T landline workers, the Communications Workers of America said Sunday. The union's contracts expired over the weekend.

A strike was a possibility, but both sides said they would keep working on a new deal. A CWA spokeswoman said the employees would report for work without a new contract, but still retain the option to call for a walkout. At issue in the negotiations are job protection clauses and health care premiums and co-payments, according to The Associated Press.

Yahoo!'s (YHOO) head of products, Blake Irving, is leaving the company following an announcement the Internet company would be slashing 2,000 jobs. Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson is slated to hold an all-staff meeting Tuesday to brief employees on the company's new management structure, a source told Reuters.

Great Wolf Resorts (WOLF) plans to evaluate a sweetened takeover bid of $7 a share in cash from private equity firm KSL Capital Partners. Great Wolf, an operator of indoor water parks, rejected an earlier bid of $6.25 a share from KSL.

The latest bid from KSL tops an agreed-to bid from Apollo Global Management (APO) that values Great Wolf shares at $6.75 each.

May oil futures were slipping $1.47 to $101.84 a barrel, while June gold futures were edging up $11.50 to $1,641.60 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 7/32, diluting the yield to 2.04%, while the U.S. dollar index traded sideways at $79.93.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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