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U.S. stocks declined a third day, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index toward its worst week in 2012, as data showing employers added fewer jobs than forecast intensified concern about the pace of economic recovery.
Equities slumped as payrolls climbed 115,000, the smallest gain in six months and below the estimate for a 160,000 advance. The jobless rate unexpectedly fell to a three-year low of 8.1 percent as people left the labor force. Concern about Europe’s debt crisis also helped send stocks slower as services and manufacturing output in the euro region shrank and France, Germany and Greece prepared for elections this weekend.
Nine out of 10 groups in the S&P 500 fell today as energy, technology and financial shares slumped at least 1.6 percent. The Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index of companies most-tied to the economy lost 1.8 percent. Chevron sank 2.2 percent to $103.68. Bank of America slid 3.3 percent to $7.74. Intel fell 2 percent to $27.98.
LinkedIn surged 7.4 percent to $117.50. The company, whose shares have more than doubled since its initial public offering in May 2011, said membership increased to 161 million from 150 million in the fourth quarter.
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