Weak Economic Reports Send Stocks Down

Weak reports on hiring and service industries sent U.S. stocks sharply lower on Wednesday. At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 111.66 points or 0.76 percent, to 14,550.35, the S&P 500 lost 16.56  points or 1.05 percent, to 1,553.69 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 36.26 points or 1.11 percent, to  3,218.60.

U.S. service companies kept growing at a solid pace in March, but the expansion was less than economists  were expecting. The Institute for Supply Management’s index of service companies fell to 54.4 from 56 a  month earlier. The report was the weakest in seven months. Separately, payrolls processor ADP reported that  U.S. employers added 158,000 jobs last month, down from February’s gain of 237,000.

The Federal Reserve could start tapering its $85 billion-a-month asset-purchase plan by the summer, said  John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco on Wednesday.

The White House says President Barack Obama will return 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury in light of  automatic spending cuts that have led to furloughs for thousands of federal workers.

Rovio Entertainment Ltd., creator of the popular Angry Birds franchise, doubled revenue and boosted profits  in 2012, but it is unclear if the company’s momentum is meeting the high expectations set by a torrid pace  of game launches.

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