Stocks Opened Down After Obama Speech

Stocks opened sharply lower on Friday as a jobs proposal by President Barack Obama did little to reassure investors concerned about weak economic growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 177.85 points to 11,117.96. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 15.27 points to 1,170.63. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 25.72 points to 2,503.42.

President Obama unveiled a stimulus plan Thursday night that he says will boost hiring and provide a jolt to the stalled economy if it becomes law. President Obama urged Congress to pass a $447-billion package of proposed tax cuts and infrastructure spending, the American Jobs Act. The jobs plan “will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business,” Obama said to a joint session of Congress.

Bank of America Corp officials have discussed slashing roughly 40,000 jobs during the first wave of a restructuring, the Wall Street Journal said. The number of job cuts are not final and could change. The restructuring aims to reduce the bank’s workforce of 280,000 over a period of years, the Journal said.

G7 finance chiefs meet on Friday under heavy pressure to take action to revive flagging economic growth and calm the biggest confidence crisis in financial markets since the global credit crunch. Host country France has called for a coordinated response from the Group of Seven industrialized nations after mounting anxiety over Europe’s debt crisis and the fragility of its banks caused a big fall in world stock markets in recent weeks.

Oil prices fell below $88 a barrel Friday as the dollar strengthened and investors mulled whether a new U.S. jobs package will help boost crude demand. By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for October delivery was down $1.35 to $87.70 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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