NEW YORK – U.S. stocks fell sharply on Friday, sending the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite to their worst week of the year, after April job gains came in below forecasts and investors fretted about weekend elections in Europe.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 168.32 points, or 1.3 percent, to 13,038.27. All 30 blue-chip stocks ended lower, led by more than 3 percent losses in Bank of America Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. For the week, the Dow lost 1.4 percent.
“Now that we got the jobs numbers out of the way, we can focus on other things, and Europe is still out there, with elections in Greece and France on Sunday,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James.
“Germany and France have been imposing their will on the rest of Europe; if there’s a crack in that, it may be initially unsettling in the markets,” he said. France is holding the second round of its presidential election, while Greek voters will elect a new parliament this weekend.
As for the U.S. jobs report, Brad Sorensen, Charles Schwab Corp. director of market and sector research, said: “Most people were expecting a sluggish number, and that’s what we got. But the prior two months were revised higher, so there is something for the bulls and the bears to hang on to.”
But on Wall Street, the bulls were in short supply, with the major indexes declining sharply.
The S&P 500 index lost 22.47 points, or 1.6 percent, to 1,369.10. It was the S&P 500’s worst week since Dec. 16, with a 2.4 percent decline.
The jobs numbers “are going to put some pressure on the market. However, I wouldn’t expect to see a full correction,” said Mike McGervey, president and founder of McGervey Wealth Management in North Canton, Ohio.
The Nasdaq composite declined 67.96 points, or 2.3 percent, to 2,956.34 – down 3.7 percent on the week. That was the index’s worst one-day and weekly loss since late November.