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* Sept. U.S. private payrolls grow slower than expected
* Ford falls as quarterly auto sales drop
* Activision Blizzard down on Bernstein rating cut
* Lennar up on better-than-expected profit
* Indexes down: Dow 1.26%, S&P 1.28%, Nasdaq 1.35% (Updates to open)
Oct 2 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell more than 1% for the second straight session on Wednesday, hitting a fresh one-month low, as September’s weak private payrolls report added to concerns of a slowdown in the world’s largest economy.
U.S. private employers hired fewer-than-expected workers in September, the ADP National Employment Report showed, pointing to weakness in the labor market.
The report, a precursor to the Labor Department’s more comprehensive jobs report due on Friday, followed a contraction in U.S. manufacturing activity to its lowest level in more than a decade.
That hit investor faith in the strength of the domestic economy, a key reason for a rally in the benchmark index this year, wiping off the third-quarter gains on the S&P 500 and Dow.
Both indexes slipped below their 100-day moving averages for the first time in about a month on Wednesday, seen as a strong technical support level that could presage further losses.
The benchmark index is now about 4% below its all-time high hit in July, after coming within striking distance of it two weeks ago.
“The weakening conditions in Europe and the slowdown in China, it’s all adding up to the same thing essentially: worries that the global economy is slowing and giving investors reason to pause and take profits,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.
The industrial and materials sectors dropped about 1.5% each, posting the biggest declines among the 11 major S&P sectors.
The Federal Reserve, which cut interest rates for the second time this year in September, has indicated it would rely on economic data to determine future rate cuts. The Fed’s next policy meeting will be held at the end of the month.
At 10:00 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 333.54 points, or 1.26%, at 26,239.50, the S&P 500 was down 37.60 points, or 1.28%, at 2,902.65. The Nasdaq Composite was down 106.61 points, or 1.35%, at 7,802.07.
Activision Blizzard Inc dropped 3.8% after Bernstein downgraded the videogame maker’s shares to “market perform”.
Ford Motor Co shares fell 3.6% after the carmaker reported an about 5% fall in U.S. auto sales for the third quarter. Shares of General Motors Co dipped 3.5% ahead of its quarterly auto sales report.
In a bright spot, homebuilder Lennar Corp gained 1.6% after the company reported a better-than-expected profit as cheaper mortgage rates led to higher demand for its homes.
Johnson & Johnson jumped 2.1% and was the only stock trading in the positive territory on the Dow. The drugmaker said on Tuesday it will pay $20.4 million to settle claims by two Ohio counties, allowing it to avoid an upcoming federal trial seeking to hold the industry responsible for the nation’s opioid epidemic.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 5.07-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 5.08-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded three new 52-week highs and 11 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded two new highs and 131 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)
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