Dismal Data Cast a Cloud Over Wall Street, Stocks Slip

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Wall Street capped Friday's choppy session in the red, although well off of session lows, after a gloomy employment report soured traders' optimism in the U.S. economic recovery.

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Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 62.3 points, or 0.49%, to 12,657, the S&P 500 slid 9.4 points, or 0.7%, to 1,344 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 12.9 points, or 0.45%, to 2,860. The FOX 50 slid 4.4 points to 942.

The recovery in the labor market largely stalled in June, according to data released on Friday by the Labor Department.

The economy added 18,000 jobs during the month -- the weakest reading since September 2010.  Meanwhile, the unemployment rate ticked higher by one-tenth of a percentage point to 9.2%, the highest since December.  Wall Street was expecting a considerably higher range of 90,000 to 125,000 for the month, with the jobless rate holding steady at 9.1%.

The report was "disappointing in every respect," said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Capital Group, adding that figures were "a very sharp contrast to the trend weve seen in the last few sessions."

The private sector tacked on 57,000 jobs, while the government shed 39,000. The average unemployed individual has been seeking work for almost 40 weeks -- an all-time high.

A report from payroll processing firm ADP showing much higher private sector gains had sent the markets rallying in the prior session.  However, volatility has spiked close to 5% so far on Friday.

The jobs situation has improved since October 2009, when the unemployment rate peaked at 10.1%.  Still, though, the road to recovery is a long one, many economists say, and recent factors like high energy prices have added an additional strain.

"We must hope that [the employment report] is overstating the extent of the slowdown in the economy at face value it shows stagnation," wrote Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight.

Also on the economic front, wholesale inventories jumped 1.8% in May, according to the Commerce Department -- the biggest increase since October.

Energy slumped on Friday amid concerns over the strength of the economic recovery. Energy contracts had rallied in the prior session, as crude hit a three-week high.

Light, sweet crude fell $2.47, or 2.5%, to $96.20 a a barrel.  Wholesale RBOB gasoline slipped 3 cents, or 1.1%, to $3.09 a gallon.

After falling last week, gasoline prices at the pump are back on the rise.  A gallon of regular gas costs $3.59 on average nationwide, up from $3.55 last week, down from $3.75 last month, and well above the $2.72 drivers paid last year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

On the foreign exchange market, the euro was under pressure, falling 0.79% against the U.S. dollar.  The greenback gained 0.49% against a basket of world currencies.

Traders made their way to safe-haven assets like gold, which jumped $11.00, or 0.72%, to $1,542 a troy ounce.  Silver was up 1 cent, or 0.02%, to $36.54 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The English FTSE 100 fell 1.1% to 5,991, the French CAC 40 slipped 1.7% to 3,914 and the German DAX dipped 0.92% to 7,403.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 climbed 0.66% to 10,138 and the Chinese Hang Seng jumped 0.87% to 22,726.

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