NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks slumped Wednesday after a weaker-than-expected assessment of the private-sector labor market sparked fears about what's ahead in Friday's government jobs report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 51 points, or 0.5%, to 10,857. The S&P 500 lost 4 points, or 0.3%, to 1169, while the Nasdaq slid 13 points, or 0.5%, at 2398.
Automatic Data Processing said the private sector shed 23,000 jobs in March, dashing economists' expectations for job growth of 40,000. February's job losses were downwardly revised to losses of 24,000 from previously reported losses of 20,000. "The ADP report is not changing my projections at all," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners of his expectations for Friday's jobs report from the government. He expects job growth of 135,000, with the unemployment rate to decline to 9.5%. "Most of the hiring showing up in the report will come from the government," he added, referencing census-related hiring, which market- watchers expect will boost job creation in March. On average, economists anticipate an additional 190,000 jobs when the Labor Department releases its March nonfarm payrolls report and expect the unemployment rate to hold at 9.7%. But the stock market will be shuttered for Good Friday when the report is released, suggesting traders are positioning themselves ahead of the release. "We're going to get quieter as we get closer to the jobs report," said Chip Hanlon, president of Delta Global Advisors. "It's just weird we're having such a big data point coming in on a day when the market is closed." Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.6%, and Japan's Nikkei slipped 0.06%. The FTSE in London gained 0.1%, and the DAX in Frankfurt added 0.2%.
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Company NewsAfter the closing bell, Research In Motion ( RIMM) said a record 4.9 million new BlackBerry subscriber accounts were added in the fourth quarter, helping power both top and bottom-line growth. Still, RIM came up short of forecasts on both counts, sending shares down over 5% in extended trading. Micron ( MU) shares, on the other hand, were moving higher in after-hours trading following late news that the chipmaker posted a second-quarter profit following a loss at the same time last year.
Commodities and the DollarCrude oil for May delivery pared its gains following the government's inventory report, but held on in the afternoon, settling $1.39 higher to $83.76 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodity markets, the June