* ADP employment report comes in below expectations
* U.S. defense secretary says North Korea a danger
* Indexes down: Dow 0.6 pct, S&P 0.9 pct, Nasdaq 1 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, April 3 U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday
as weaker-than-expected economic data caused investors to trim
positions ahead of Friday's jobs report and U.S. defense
secretary expressed concern over North Korea.
A report on private-sector jobs showed less-than-expected
hiring in March, which some analysts saw as a discouraging sign
ahead of Friday's Department of Labor report.
Stocks extended losses in afternoon trading, with the S&P
500 and Nasdaq falling more than 1 percent. The Pentagon said it
was sending a missile defense system to Guam in the coming
weeks, while U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cited a "real
and clear" danger from North Korea.
The drop put the S&P 500 on track for its biggest daily
percentage loss since Feb. 25, with energy and financial sectors
leading the decline. The S&P 500 financial index was
down 1.7 percent.
The S&P 500, up roughly 10 percent since the start of the
year, has come close to its intraday record level of 1,576.09 in
the past few sessions before pulling back, and analysts said the
market is facing bearish technicals after its strong run.
"It's not really a surprise given how extended the market is
that with some weaker economic data you're seeing some risk-off
action going on today. People are paring positions across the
board," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading
at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
The headlines on North Korea add "another risk element to
the market," he said.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 84.50
points, or 0.58 percent, at 14,577.51. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 14.13 points, or 0.90 percent, at
1,556.12, after briefly falling more than 1 percent. The Nasdaq
Composite Index was down 32.79 points, or 1.01 percent,
On Tuesday, decliners had beaten advancers in the market
despite gains in the three major indexes.
The ADP National Employment Report showed U.S. companies
hired at the slowest pace in five months, far below what
economists had expected, though the February report was revised
In another report, the Institute for Supply Management's
March services sector index also came in below expectations,
with the pace of growth at the lowest level in seven months.