NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks fell in early trading today on Wall Street after reports on hiring and growth at service companies dampened optimism about the outlook for the U.S. economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 24 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,636 in early trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped six points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,564 points. Both indexes closed at record highs on Tuesday.
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 in March from 56 a month earlier. The report was the weakest in seven months and fell short of what analysts were expecting.
Separately, payrolls processor ADP reported that U.S. employers added 158,000 jobs last month, down from February’s gain of 237,000, as construction firms held off on hiring. The ADP report is often seen as a preview for the government’s broader survey on employment, which is due out Friday.
The stock market has gotten off to a strong start in 2013. The Dow rose 11.3 percent in the first three months of the year thanks to a recovery in housing and signs that the job market is improving. Strong company earnings and economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve have also sent the market higher.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, fell from 1.86 percent to 1.83 percent.
In other trading, the Nasdaq composite dipped nine points, or 0.1 percent to 3,245.
By Steve Rothwell, AP markets writer