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Down nearly 175 points in early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) sold off sharply on a disappointing employment report that showed continuing struggles in the job market. With earnings season kicking off next week, the blue chip index rallied later in the day, but still closed 40 points lower, ending with 0.3% losses, at 14,565. The first full week of trading in April saw all three major indexes fall after a red-hot start to the year.
Defying the broader trend, aerospace mainstay Boeing (NYSE: BA ) added 1.4% after completing its final test flight of the redesigned 787 Dreamliner battery system. Boeing has been scrambling to deal with systemic issues with its Dreamliner model since earlier this year, when a small fire broke out on a plane at the Boston terminal. The FAA still needs to stamp its approval on the reworked battery system, but today, investors saw at least some forward progress in that area.
Though there weren't many positive catalysts for the stock today, McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) managed to end as one of the Dow's top performers, tacking on 0.8% to close the week. Whether investors were attracted by its 3.1% dividend, or whether Wall Street simply thinks high unemployment makes for more fast food customers, remains to be seen, but the restaurant does have some serious issues to address. Just yesterday, New York City workers staged citywide protests at multiple fast food restaurants, demanding higher wages and the right to organize.
Hit especially hard by today's labor market woes, credit-card provider American Express (NYSE: AXP ) slipped 2.1%, to finish as the worst performer in the Dow. Although corporate profits remain at historically high levels, American Express relies heavily on continued consumer spending for growth, and the pressure will be on when the company reports quarterly profits April 17.
Finally, shares of Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO ) ended 2% lower today, though if there's any solace to be had, it's from the fact that shares primarily slipped on news of a competitor's weakness. Cratering nearly 20% lower, shares of F5 Networks stumbled after announcing preliminary figures that (surprise!) weren't that great. Cisco also agreed to acquire cellular communications company, Ubiquisys, for $310 million, which may have temporarily depressed shares.
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