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Stock Market Today: Stocks Sink Amid Investor Unease as New Quarter Begins

Stock quotes in this article: ^DJI, ^GSPC, ^IXIC, F, GM, TKMR, F, GM, FNMA, FMCC, USO, GLD

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock markets slumped in midday trading Wednesday as the new quarter began with a barrage of weak overseas and domestic data, coupled with troubles brewing in China.

Must Read: 10 Stocks Carl Icahn Loves in 2014

The Dow Jones Industrial Average  dropped by 1.04%. The S&P 500 lost 0.75%. The Nasdaq  slid 1.04%.

A number of disappointing economic reports were released shortly after the market opened on Wednesday. The ISM manufacturing index fell to 56.6 in September from 59 in August, with the employment sub-index coming in at 54.6 vs. 58.1 in August. Construction spending surprisingly dipped 0.8% in August. Meanwhile, the final Markit U.S. Manufacturing PMI registered 57.5 in September, down slightly from 57.9 in August.

U.S. private payrolls grew by a more-than-expected 213,000 in September, according to the ADP employment change report. But the markets barely budged on the news. Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab pointed out that the markets had already been in a sour mood prior to the ADP report, thanks to sluggish PMI data out of China and Europe and softer corporate confidence in Japan, and concerns about political unrest in Hong Kong and China.

"The data -- particularly the ones we got in Europe and the things that are happening in Hong Kong and China had the biggest impact on the futures prior to the market open," said Frederick, adding that investors didn't put much weight on the ADP data given that it's been an inconsistent predictor of the bigger government nonfarm payrolls data that will be release on Friday. 

"The market wants to see what the employment report says this coming Friday and then after that we have earnings. It's a market that's waiting -- and there's a lot of 'ifs' at this time. Until we reinforce the fundamentals it stays in a hesitant nervous state," added Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.

In Hong Kong, a turnout of thousands for pro-Democracy demonstrations during China's 65th National Day was fueling fears of a government clampdown. The Hong Kong market was closed on Wednesday. It tumbled 1.28% on Tuesday. There were also concerns about an escalation of European Union sanctions on Russia.

In individual stock headlines Wednesday, shares of Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (TKMR) jumped 19.19% after officials announced that the first case of Ebola had been diagnosed in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control said a patient being treated at a hospital in Dallas tested positive for the disease. Tekmira has been working on a treatment for the deadly disease.

Ford (F) dipped 1.32% after saying that its U.S. sales fell 3% in September as the automaker reduces sales of its 2014 F-150 pickup in preparation for the 2015 aluminum F-150 launch.

GM (GM) rose 2.69% after reporting that its U.S. sales climbed 19% last month on strong demand for its trucks and crossovers.

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled against investors who are trying to collect billions of dollars in profits of government-chartered mortgage companies Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) .

The United States Oil Fund (USO)  gained 1.39% and the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) increased 0.76%.

Must Read: 10 Stocks George Soros Is Buying

-- By Andrea Tse in New York

Follow @AndreaTTse

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