Weak US jobs figures hit stocks

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    LONDON (AP) ? Much weaker than expected U.S. job figures sent stocks tumbling Friday as investors worried that the American economic recovery was grinding to a halt.

    The Department of Labor’s statistics came in below even the most conservative estimates and lower than May’s fairly dismal numbers. The U.S. economy added just 18,000 jobs in June, way below market expectations of at least 125,000. The weakness was particularly surprising after a buoyant report from the ADP private payrolls firm earlier this week.

    There was even more disappointment with the news that the May increase was more than halved to 25,000 and the rise in the unemployment rate to 9.2 percent from 9.1 percent.

    “There are no redeeming factors in the June jobs report,” said Sal Guatieri, an economist with BMO Capital Markets.

    The health of the U.S. labor market is crucial for the global economy and Friday’s announcement has reinforced recent fears that the recovery is running out of steam.

    Those fears hit stocks and the dollar hard.

    In Europe, France’s CAC-40 slid 1 percent to 1,336, and Germany’s DAX fell 0.4 percent to 7,444. The FTSE index of leading British shares lost 0.5 percent to 6,023.

    Wall Street was poised to open down on the news after solid gains the previous day. Dow futures lost 0.9 percent to 12,569 while S&P 500 futures fell more than 1 percent to 1,336.

    Following the news, the euro gained back some of its earlier losses as investors dumped the dollar. The currency used by the 17-nation eurozone was down 0.3 percent to $1.4315 by early afternoon.

    Earlier, Asian stocks rode expectations that the U.S. would unveil figures that would show its economy was growing. Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.7 percent to close at 10,138, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.9 percent to 22,726.

    Mainland Chinese shares were more cautious. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.1 percent to 2,797.77, while the Shenzhen Composite Index was virtually flat at 1,201.50.

    Benchmark oil for August delivery was down 12 cents to $98.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after surging more than $2 the previous day.