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April 6, 2014

Stock market sinks as tech sector slumps

NEW YORK — Technology stocks fell in afternoon trading Friday, bringing the broader market lower. Mixed signals in the government’s monthly jobs report left investors with little reason to cheer.

The government reported that U.S. employers added more workers to their payrolls last month, but the overall report presented a mixed picture, and the unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 20 points, or 1 percent, to 1,868 as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 123 points, or 0.7 percent, to 16,450. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite lost 105 points, or 2.5 percent, to 4,133.

JOBS REPORT: The Labor Department said employers added 192,000 jobs in March. That’s less than economists had expected and also below February’s total of 197,000. On the bright side, employers added a combined 37,000 more jobs in February and January than the government first estimated. A half-million Americans started looking for work last month, and many of them found jobs.

MUDDLED REACTION: “It’s nothing to get too jazzed up about,” said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners. A lot of investors have argued that the winter weather held the economy back at the start of the year and that things would turn around as the temperature warmed up. The jobs report, Pavlik said, didn’t support their case. “A lot of what people have been saying about payrolls isn’t true,” he said.

LEAVING TECH: Technology stocks took a harder fall than the rest of the market. Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Akamai, an online services provider, each fell about 3 percent. Utilities, which investors buy to play it safe and collect dividend payments, bucked the downward trend. The Dow Jones Utility Average increased 1.4 percent.

Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and other big corporations whose stocks are often less volatile than the broader market made gains. Coca-Cola climbed 23 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $38.31.

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