Biggest fall in a month for US stock market


US STOCKS fell yesterday, with the S&P 500 index posting its biggest daily decline in more than a month, after a weaker-than-expected survey of private employers raised concerns about the strength of the economy.

News the Pentagon was sending a missile defense system to Guam in the coming weeks and remarks by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that North Korea posed a “real and clear” danger added to investor caution.

The ADP National Employment report on private-sector jobs showed less-than-expected hiring in March, which was a worrying sign for investors before the Labor Department’s March non-farm payrolls report on Friday.

Yesterday’s market decline came a day after the benchmark S&P 500 and the Dow finished at record highs. Energy and financial sectors led the day’s fall on the S&P 500, with the S&P 500 financial index .SPSY down 1.7 per cent.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 111.66 points, or 0.76 per cent, at 14,550.35. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 16.56 points, or 1.05 per cent, at 1,553.69, its biggest daily percentage decline since February 25.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 36.26 points, or 1.11 per cent, at 3,218.60. The Dow Jones Transportation Average, seen as a barometer of economic activity, fell 1.3 per cent to 6005.95, closing below its 50-day moving average for the first time since November 21.

The S&P 500, up 8.9 per cent since the start of the year, has come close to its intraday record level of 1,576.09 in the past few sessions before pulling back, and analysts have pointed to signs of its struggle.

On Tuesday, decliners beat advancers in the market despite gains in the three major indexes.