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Dow Drops After Weak Jobs Report

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Wall Street sold off Friday after investors learned that the U.S. added only 115,000 jobs last month, which stoked concern about the sluggish economy.

Investors also dialed back risk on signs of weak business activity in Europe and ahead of French and Greek elections this weekend.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 168 points, or 1.3%, to 13,038. The S&P 500 finished down 22.5 points, or 1.6%, at 1,369, and the Nasdaq closed down 68 points, or 2.3%, to 2,956.

The Dow lost 1.3% for the week, while the S&P 500 shed 2.2% and the Nasdaq finished down 3.1%.

The decline was widespread as all 30 Dow components closed in negative territory. The biggest percentage losers were Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report), Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Microsoft (MSFT).

JPMorgan slid 3% after CLSA analyst Mike Mayo cut the bank's shares to "underperform" from "outperform" today.

In the broader market, losers outpaced winners by 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange and 4 to 1 on the Nasdaq.

The VIX, the so-called fear gauge, jumped 7.9% on worries economic growth is faltering. The VIX measures implied volatility through options pricing for the S&P 500. A reading above 20 is seen as the point where fear is on the rise.

The U.S. economy created 115,000 jobs last month, falling short of economists' estimates for 170,000, according to Thomson Reuters. Still, March's figure was revised up to 154,000. The average workweek for employees was unchanged at 34.5 hours in April.

The unemployment rate fell slightly to 8.1% from 8.2 %, though largely due to more people giving up their search for work. Economists had expected the rate to remain unchanged.

Michael Strauss, chief investment strategist at Commonfund, says the labor market may return to job growth of about 170,000 over the latter part of the spring or early summer, especially with a pickup in hiring in the industrial and housing sectors.

To hold the unemployment rate steady these days, the economy likely only needs jobs growth of 75,000 jobs a month given that baby boomers "are starting to leave the system," he said.

In Europe, London's FTSE shed 1.9% and the Dax in Germany closed lower by 2%.
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