Concerns about the strength of the economic recovery in the United States and new worries about the debt crisis in Europe sent stocks sharply lower on Friday, with all the major indexes declining more than3percent.
The markets were sent skidding after the Labor Department's report on job growth in May fell short of expectations. While the economy added431,000 jobs, more than 90 percent of the new jobs were in government - and most of them were temporary positions to help conduct the 2010 census.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed below 10,000 for the third time this year, ending at 9,931.22, down 324.06, or 3.2 percent. It was the Dow's lowest close in almost four months. The euro also continued its decline, dropping to less than $1.20 on concerns about the fiscal troubles in Europe.
While the markets have been bedeviled for weeks by worries over debt problems in Spain, Portugal and Greece, the boundaries of the problem shifted to Hungary after its government sent worrying signals about its finances. Investors fled the country's assets, and the euro slipped to $1.1992 in afternoon trading in London, its lowest level since March2006.
The currency was down from $1.2162 late Thursday, dented by the comments from Hungary and from France, where Prime Minister François Fillon told a news conference, according to a text released by his office, that he only sees "good news in the parity between the euro and dollar" and that he was not concerned by its decline.
"The jobless number and the payrolls are having a big impact on the market, as well as the problems over in the euro zone," said Dan Faretta, senior market strategist for LaSalle Futures Group. "They are having issues of it spreading to other countries, and that brings about a lot of worries for investors."
Few private-sector jobs
Employers added only 41,000 private-sector jobs in May. Those job gains were limited mostly to the health care, mining and manufacturing sectors. What had been a return to construction hiring proved short-lived, as the sector shed jobs again.
While federal employment was up sharply because of the temporary hiring, state and local governments shed 22,000 jobs in May, and that may be a preview of things to come.
Private-sector hiring, which exceeded 218,000 jobs in April, fell dramatically in May, and the recent stock-market slump seems to reflect a growing view that the U.S. economy, while improving, won't grow fast enough this year to knock down the jobless rate and move sharply into an expansion phase.
The nation's unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent. The Charlotte region's jobless rate dropped to 11.1 percent in April from12.1 percent the month before.
The national jobless rate is expected to go back up over 10 percent later this year as the economic recovery convinces more Americans to resume looking for work - and be counted as unemployed rather than out of the work force.