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As if May weren't bad enough for the stock market, June is getting off to a terrible start. With terrible-looking jobs data that showed just 69,000 new jobs created in May and a higher unemployment rate, economists are getting more worried about whether the U.S. economy can keep recovering without further outside help. That's the message the gold market is giving, as a nearly $40-per-ounce jump above $1,600 signals new expectations for further Fed intervention. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) plunged to a more than 200-point loss shortly before 10:45 a.m. EDT, with the S&P and Nasdaq following suit with even bigger losses on a percentage basis.
All 30 Dow stocks traded lower, but financials took the brunt of the damage, as Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) and American Express (NYSE: AXP ) were both down around 4%. B of A has risen and fallen in line with economic conditions around the world for some time, but the move in AmEx is fairly extreme for the stock. Yet AmEx depends on strong business activity to hold up revenue, and it's also particularly exposed to international markets through its travel services division. A truly global slowdown could hurt AmEx worse than some major U.S. banks, which have become increasingly insular as they seek to avoid any fallout from a European economic disaster.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) was the biggest loser in the Dow, dropping as much as 5%. An analyst at Jefferies argued that even with its plan to cut 27,000 jobs, the ongoing rise of tablets will hurt its PC business despite the soon-to-be-released Windows 8 operating system. Even its strong printer business faces challenges from mobile devices. HP still has plenty of work to do to try to figure out a smart strategy going forward.
A drop in China's official purchasing managers index also hurt economically sensitive stocks, with Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) falling more than 2%. As much as Caterpillar has tried to bolster its U.S. presence, China remains an important growth driver for the company. If China keeps slowing down, it will hurt Caterpillar and countless other multinationals seeking growth in emerging markets.
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