Jobs Report Drags Down the Dow

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) took a solid whacking today, sinking 168 points, or 1.3%. The drop was enough to give the Dow its worst week of 2012, with a loss of 190 points.

A disappointing jobs report ruled the day, as the Department of Labor reported that the economy added just 115,000 jobs in April, well short of expectations of 170,000. The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.1%, but that was because prospective workers dropped out of the job hunt, not because meaningful job growth put people back to work. The percentage of working-age Americans in the labor force actually dropped to its lowest figure in 30 years, and the percentage of men dropped to its lowest point since data on that figure started being collected in 1948. For the month, the private sector added 130,000 jobs, while 15,000 government jobs were shed. The April report marks the third consecutive month of declining job growth.

The news weighed heavily on the blue chips, as all 30 dropped during the session. Energy, tech, and financial sectors seemed to be the hardest hit. Oil prices slid nearly 4% to less than $99 a barrel, the lowest point in more than two months, on worries about the strength of the general economy. Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) dropped more than 2%, while ExxonMobil was down just over 1%.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) were two of the biggest Dow losers, dropping about 3%. The big banks tend to swing more in reaction to macroeconomic news, but CLSA analyst Mike Mayo also helped send them down a few points. The analyst, who had downgraded Bank of America a few weeks ago, put JPMorgan on notice as well, dropping it by two notches to "underperform" from "outperform." While Mayo called the bank "best in class," he believes it would be more valuable if broken up because of mounting regulation that will hinder its synergies. He also cited macroeconomic uncertainty as a concern.

One diamond in the rough today was LinkedIn (Nasdaq: LNKD  ) , which jumped 7% after beating earnings and revenue estimates, the second straight earnings beat for the recent IPO. On the call, the company also announced plans to buy presentation service SlideShare for $119 million. LinkedIn's strong performance could bode well for Facebook ahead of its expected IPO later this month.

Finally, elections in France and Greece over the weekend are likely to erase memories of the jobs report come Monday. Look for that to move markets at the start of next week.

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Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman holds no positions in the companies in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of LinkedIn, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of ExxonMobil, Chevron, and LinkedIn. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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