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Stocks sag amid disappointing jobs report

Safety first. That appears to be the new motto for investors trying to figure out how bad the emerging slowdown in U.S. economic growth is going to be.

A disappointing jobs report sent investors out of stocks and the dollar Friday and into assets perceived as being safer. Foreign currencies and gold rose, as did bond prices. The yield on the two-year Treasury note hit a record low.

Stocks sank for most of the day but pared their losses in late afternoon trading. The Dow Jones industrials ended down 21 points after being down as much as 160 earlier in the day.

The Labor Department's closely watched monthly employment survey confirmed what investors have been fearing: The economic recovery is weakening. Private job growth was just 71,000 in July. That's below what analysts had hoped for and far shy of the level needed to reduce the unemployment rate, which held steady at 9.5 percent.

U.S. stocks fell on the report, sapping a strong upward trend from the past four weeks.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 21.42 points, or 0.2 percent, at 10,653.56. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 4.17, or 0.4 percent, to 1,121.64, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 4.59, or 0.2 percent, to 2,288.47.

- AP

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