US Indexes Sharply Lower at Session's Half on Dismal Employment Report; Commodities Mixed

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Stocks are off session lows after an initial plunge thanks to a dismal government employment report that showed the economy added essentially no jobs, keeping the unemployment rate steady. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 200 points before snapping back.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported this morning that nonfarm payrolls were unchanged in August, lower that the 53,000 gain expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch. This is the weakest performance in nonfarm payrolls since a decline in September 2010. Verizon's strike accounted for about 45,000 payrolls, the agency said.

The unemployment rate held steady at 9.1% in August, as expected. Payroll counts in June and July were revised lower by a cumulative 58,000. The average workweek for August edged down by six minutes to 34.2 hours. Average hourly earnings on the month fell 0.1% to $23.09.

In company news:

Shares of AstraZeneca ( AZN ) are sitting lower after the drug maker's anti-cholesterol medicine Crestor failed to beat Pfizer Inc.'s ( PFE ) Lipitor in a head-to-head clinical trial, hurting chances the British company's top drug can boost its sales when the world's best-selling medicine goes generic, Dow Jones Newswires reports. The stock is down some 3% in recent London trading.

ADRs of BP ( BP ) are down 4.34% to $36.16 after Halliburton ( HAL ) says it is filing claims against BP in Texas state court for negligent misrepresentation, business disparagement and defamation related to the April 20, 2010, Macondo incident. Halliburton has also moved to amend its claims against BP in the multi-district litigation in New Orleans, Louisiana, to include fraud.

Icagen ( ICGN ) shares are down after Pfizer ( PFE ) again extended the expiration date of its tender offer for all outstanding shares of ICGN for $6 per share to 6:00 p.m., New York City time, on Friday, September 2, unless further extended.

ADRs of Baidu.com (BIDU) are down as the Associated Press reports the Chinese Internet search firm provided a preview of its upcoming mobile operating system that is meant to bolster its presence in the mobile Web market. Baidu Yi, the name of the platform, enables third-party application developers to create apps such as maps, games and other tools. The platform is modeled after Google's (GOOG) Andorid operating system.

Shares of American International Group (AIG) are down while the insurer says its unit, ILFC Holdings, filed with the SEC for a proposed initial public offering. The offering will consist of shares of ILFC Holdings' common stock to be sold by AIG Capital Corporation, a direct wholly owned subsidiary of AIG. The number of shares to be offered, price range and timing for the proposed offering have not yet been determined.

Shares of Netflix (NFLX) are just off session lows but still sharply in the red after after Starz Chief Executive Officer Chris Albrecht said it has "ended contract renewal negotiations with Netflix." According to the statement from Albrecht, "When the agreement expires on February 28, 2012, Starz will cease to distribute its content on the Netflix streaming platform.

Commodities are mixed as December gold contracts are up 2.67% to $1,878 an ounce while October crude oil contacts are down 1.99% to $87.07 a barrel.

In energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund (USO) is down 1.97% to $33.79 and the United States Natural Gas fund (UNG) is down 1.47%, to $10.03.

In precious metal ETFs, the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is up 2.63% to $182.53. Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) is up 3% to $65.28. iShares Silver Trust (SLV) is up 3.36% to $41.88.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AZN , BP , HAL , ICGN , PFE

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