Pedestrians pass the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, May...

Pedestrians pass the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, May 2, 2012. The markets had an up day on manufacturing news. Credit: Getty Images

When hiring slumps, so do stock prices. That was at least the message investors sent Wednesday, when they ignored flashes of positive news about the economy and instead homed in on troubling reports about jobs in the United States and Europe.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 87 points after a company that tracks payrolls said the United States added far fewer jobs in April than in March. The Dow ended down 10.75 points, at 13,268.57.

It was a turn from the day before, when investors chose to focus on a couple of positive reports on U.S. manufacturing and sent the Dow up about 66 points to its highest close in more than four years.

While the market's day-to-day fluctuations may be difficult to predict, some investors say they're certain that stocks will generally climb for the rest of the year. As justification, they cite strong first-quarter earnings.

Of the 330 companies on the Standard & Poor's 500 index that have reported first-quarter earnings, 77 percent have beaten the estimates of stock analysts, said John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet, a provider of financial data.

The S&P 500 index fell 3.51 points to 1,402.31. The Nasdaq composite index fell throughout the morning, then finished up 9.41 points at 3,059.85.

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