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Stocks start April with chilly dip

A Wall Street street sign outside the New

A Wall Street street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan on July 16, 2013. Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

Major stock indexes closed lower Wednesday, extending losses from a day earlier. Discouraging economic reports on manufacturing, jobs and construction spending weighed down the market, stoking investor concerns about corporate profits and global growth.

Health care stocks were among the biggest decliners.

Oil prices surged above $50 a barrel, but settled back around $49.58 at 4 p.m.

At the close on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was down nearly 78 points, about 0.4 percent, at 17,698.2. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gave up 8.2 points, about 0.4 percent, to 2,059.7. The Nasdaq composite shed 20.7 points, about 0.4 percent, to 4,880.2.

THE QUOTE: "We're seeing a bit of a pullback here the last couple of days," said analyst James Liu, a global market strategist for J.P. Morgan Asset Management. "The concerns right now are obviously around global growth and, this morning, around U.S. economic growth."

HIRING SLOWS: Payroll processor ADP said that U.S. companies added a seasonally adjusted 189,000 jobs last month. That was below market expectations for an increase of around 250,000. Though ADP's survey doesn't always tally with official numbers, the figures may prompt some analysts to reduce forecasts for the government's next monthly jobs tally, due out Friday.

MANUFACTURING MALAISE: The Institute for Supply Management said its U.S. manufacturing index slipped in March, the fifth monthly decline in a row. The slowdown comes as factory orders have been growing more slowly.

CONSTRUCTION SPENDING: The Commerce Department said that U.S. construction spending declined in February for the second month in a row. The decline was largely due to a 1.4 percent slide in private spending on construction of single-family homes. That's the biggest drop since 2010.

SECTOR MONITOR: Seven of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 fell, with health care stocks leading the decline. The sector was down 1.6 percent. Telecommunications stocks rose the most. Macerich notched the biggest drop among all stocks in the S&P 500, sliding $5.06, or 6 percent, to $79.27. Macerich slumped after rival Simon Property Group called off its hostile $16.8 billion takeover bid for the shopping mall operator.

PUMPING THE BRAKES: Shares in Ford Motor and General Motors fell after the automakers reported a drop in U.S. sales in March. Ford shed 22 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $15.92. GM lost 73 cents, or 2 percent, to $36.77.

BAD QUARTER: Supply-chain services company UTI Worldwide slumped 17.4 percent after the company reported a wider fourth-quarter loss and cut its guidance. The stock fell $2.14 to $10.16.

TURBULENCE: Shares in American Airlines Group and Delta Air Lines encountered some turbulence. American fell $2.11, or 4 percent, to $50.69, while Delta slid $1.56, or 3.5 percent, to $43.40.

STUDY BOOST: Shares in Dyax surged 48 percent after the biotechnology company's potential inflammatory condition treatment met key goals in a study, meriting a faster FDA review. The stock added $8.04 to $24.79.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude jumped $2.45, or 5.2 percent, to $50.06 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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