NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures weakened considerably early Wednesday after a much weaker-than-expected private-sector employment report.
Worrisome eurozone data was also putting a damper on investor sentiment.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were falling 50 points, or 55.3 points below fair value, at 13,168.
Futures for the S&P 500 were sliding 6.6 points, or 8 points below fair value, at 1394, and futures for the Nasdaq were falling 12.8 points, or 17 points below fair value, at 2706.
Stocks kicked off May on a strong note Tuesday, posting smart gains after a much better-than-expected report on U.S. manufacturing activity. The Dow hit its highest level since late 2007 in intraday action and closed with a gain of nearly 70 points.
But sentiment was slipping again on Wednesday. Payroll processor Automatic Data Processing reported a much weaker-than-expected increase of 119,000 workers added by U.S. companies in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, down from a downwardly-revised 201,000 jobs added in March.
Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters
estimated the April ADP number would come in at 170,000.
The light read on employment comes ahead of Friday's official April nonfarm payrolls report from the Labor Department, adding to investor fears that this report will deliver more of the same after a soft number in March.
"The surprising weakness in this report suggests a downside bias going into Friday's employment report, and from an accounting perspective it is equivalent to payrolls growth of around 115K, which is well through the current market consensus for a more respectable 160K gain," says Millan Mulraine, senior U.S. strategist, TD Securities.
The economy added only 120,000 jobs in March, about half the gains posted in the previous three months, disappointing investors who were hoping for continued signs of a strengthening economy.
The Commerce Department is expected to say at 10 a.m. ET that factory orders fell 1.7% in March.
In Europe, business survey provider Markit Economics
said that the eurozone manufacturing downturn took a further turn for the worse in April.
The seasonally adjusted Markit Eurozone Manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to a near three-year low of 45.9, down from 47.7 in March and below the earlier flash estimate of 46. The headline PMI has signaled contraction in each of the past nine months.
The Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Agency reported an increase in German unemployment thanks to the sovereign debt crisis' stifling impact on economic growth, with the number of unemployed people rising by a seasonally adjusted 19,000 to 2.87 million in April.
London's FTSE was slipping 0.5%. The DAX in Germany was up 0.3% and the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong ended up 1% as they tried catching up to Tuesday's U.S. rally after a break during the May public holidays. Japan's Nikkei Average finished up 0.3%.
In corporate news, Comcast (CMCSA)
, the cable giant, reported first-quarter earnings Wednesday of $1.2 billion, or 45 cents a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $943 million, or 34 cents. Analysts expected Comcast to report earnings of 42 cents a share.
Media company Time Warner (TWX)
reported Wednesday first-quarter adjusted earnings of 67 cents a share. Analysts, on average, anticipated earnings of 64 cents a share in the first quarter. Time Warner also reaffirmed its full-year 2012 guidance on Wednesday of low-double-digit growth off its $2.89 adjusted earnings per share base.
, Switzerland's biggest bank, said first-quarter profit fell 54%, largely due to a big accounting charge on its debt and difficult market conditions. Revenue fell 22% to 6.53 billion francs.
In commodity markets, the June crude oil contract was down 58 cents to trade at $105.58 a barrel. June gold futures were off $13 to $1,649.40 an ounce.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising 3/32, diluting the yield to 1.936%. The dollar was adding 0.6%, according to the dollar index.
-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.
>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse