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Stocks continue slide despite employment data

August 5, 2011 |  8:52 am

Stocks

A day after the worst day on the markets since the financial crisis, a better-than-expected report 
about unemployment was not enough to counter investor gloom about the economy.

Before the markets opened, the U.S. government announced that the economy had added 117,000 jobs in July, enough to bring the unemployment rate down one tick to 9.1%. That gave brief encouragement to traders as the markets opened, but prices quickly began to waver.

Within two hours of opening, the leading indexes had switched directions numerous times. At midmorning the Dow Jones industrial average was down 158.37 points, or 1.4%, to 11,225.31, just a day after the blue-chip average lost a staggering 512 points.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 1.2%, or 14.64 points, to 1,185.43 Friday morning.

Overnight, stock markets in Asia followed U.S. markets down close to 4%.

The markets reflected the wide disagreement among investors about the meaning of the decline in stock indexes over the last two weeks.

A growing number of economists have said the United States could be headed back into recession, pointing to the recent drop in consumer spending and the continuing drag of debt on the U.S. and European economies. The yield on the U.S. Treasury bond was up slightly Friday morning as fears returned that the Standard & Poor's rating agency may drop the U.S. down from its AAA rating.

Another camp has said the downturn is likely to be temporary, encouraging home investors to hold onto stocks. 

Gold, a traditional safe haven during times of crisis, continued its ascent Friday after unexpectedly falling in price Thursday.

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-- Nathaniel Popper

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