May 04 - A lackluster April employment report sealed Wall Street's fate, prompting the biggest one-week drop of 2012. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Don't let the fiesta soundtrack fool you - there was nothing like a party at the New York Stock Exchange. Wall Street ended its worst week of the year on a sour note as a disappointing jobs report echoed like a scratched record. U.S. employers added just 115,000 workers in April, according to the Labor Department; that's less than the 170,000 Wall Street was expecting, and down from an upwardly revised 154,000 in March. At the same time, the unemployment rate dropped to a three-year low of 8.1 percent, but that's because discouraged Americans stopped looking for work. Despite the setback the job market is still in the midst of a gradual improvement, says Jonas Prising, he's president of the Americas for the Manpower staffing group. SOUNDBITE: JONAS PRISING, PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAS, MANPOWERGROUP (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The April numbers are disappointing but the revisions for March and February were quite encouraging. So on the average you have 175,000 jobs that have been created in the first four months of the year and that's encouraging. What's somewhat troubling is that workforce is declining, which is why you saw a drop in unemployment." Outside of the jobs report, Facebook was the big story of the day. Next week the social network starts pitching what is expected to be the biggest initial public offering ever to come out of Silicon Valley at about $10.6 billion. As for the markets: NYMEX crude had its biggest weekly drop of the year on the back of that jobs report. The Dow and S&P 500 lost more than one percent each in Friday; the Nasdaq lost more than 2 percent. Blue chips shed 1.4 percent for the week, with the Nasdaq down 3.7 percent. Investors were on edge in Europe with big elections over the weekend. Stocks fell pretty much 2 percent across the board. Conway Gittens, Reuters