Stocks slide ahead of confidence vote in Greece

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NEW YORK (AP) ? Stocks slid ahead of a confidence vote for Greece’s embattled prime minister Friday. Investors are worried that the country might not go through with an austerity program needed to prevent a messy default on its debt. The Dow Jones industrial average was down almost 170 points in morning trading.

Groupon Inc. jumped 39 percent to $27.89 on its first day of trading. The initial public offering of the company, which pioneered online group discounts, priced at $20 a share late Thursday. Social networking site LinkedIn Inc. dropped 10 percent to $78.22 after posting its first quarterly loss since going public.

A report on the U.S. job market was mixed. The government said 80,000 jobs were created last month. That was a drop from the 158,000 added in September. On the positive side, the unemployment rate fell to 9 percent from 9.1 percent, the first decline since July.

The release of the Labor Department’s monthly employment report is usually a key focus for investors, but this time the unfolding drama over containing Europe’s debt crisis was again driving the action.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s government faces a vote of confidence later Friday that could determine whether he stays in office. Papandreou stunned financial markets and European leaders on Monday with a call for a popular vote on an unpopular package of austerity measures. The vote was scrapped Thursday, but markets are still unnerved by the political turmoil in Greece, which threatens to hobble Europe’s efforts to control its debt crisis.

“Unless the jobs number came out with a huge surprise one way or the other, it’s just a momentary diversion from where the market focus has been, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, until there is a resolution in Europe,” said Brad Sorenson, head of market analysis at Charles Schwab.

The austerity measures are needed to prevent Greece from defaulting on its debt, which would throw the European financial system into turmoil. Investors are worried that if Greece defaults it could cripple European banks and cause fiscal strain on much larger European countries like Italy, which are too big to bail out. Greece, Ireland and Portugal ? all relatively small countries ? have received financial lifelines from international lenders.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 168 points, or 1.4 percent, to 11,875 as of 11 a.m. Eastern. The S&P 500 fell 20, or 1.6 percent, to 1,241. The Nasdaq composite shed 40, or 1.5 percent, to 2,657.

In U.S. corporate news, MF Global CEO Jon Corzine stepped down Friday. The securities firm filed for bankruptcy protection Monday after being brought down by bets on European debt.

Starbucks Corp. rose 5.5 percent after the company’s quarterly results beat Wall Street’s expectations. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. sank 4 percent after the chip maker said it would cut 1,400 workers because of a weak market for computers and manufacturing delays.