Markets Thrashed as Fears of Global Slowdown Return

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The economic growth story had another page torn from its binding as more negative jobs figures were released this morning. One poor unemployment report does not carry much weight, but at this stage, it is becoming pretty clear that economic growth is reaching the right side of the bell curve. The Labor Department added credence to this fact, as it reported non-farm employment growth of 80,000 jobs in June, which fell short of the 100,000 expected jobs. Job creation in the second quarter paled in comparison to the first quarter, leaving the unemployment rate at a stubborn 8.2%.

The situation is just as dire internationally, as the International Monetary Fund cut global forecasts for 2012. The broad markets are plummeting today, with technology and materials hit especially hard.

Index

Gain/Loss

Gain/Loss %

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) (135.36)(1.05%)
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) (14.42)(1.05%)
Nasdaq(41.82)(1.41%)
WTI Crude Oil(2.99)(3.43%)

Source: Yahoo! Finance.


To the markets
Technology is the worst-performing sector today, with Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) leading the Dow lower by shedding 3.6%. The PC manufacturer earlier decided to concentrate its focus on developing tablets using Intel's x86 processor powered by Windows 8 Pro instead of ARMHoldings' processor. The x86 version is more powerful and used primarily for productive devices compared to ARM's media-centered chip. However, DigiTimes reported HP could be looking to use an ARM processor. By doing so, HP would be directly competing with the Apple's media-focused iPad.

The negative economic news also sent oil prices tumbling, hurting oil-focused exploration and production companies. On the other hand, Henry Hub natural gas prices are up over 5%, sending shares of Chesapeake Energy (NYS: CHK) 1.9% higher. Also benefiting from the spike in nat gas' price is Niska Gas Storage Partners (NYS: NKA) , trading 4.9% higher so far today.  

Take a long-term view
June was the third month in a row of disappointing jobs growth and the only lifeline still dangling is the continuation of Operation Twist. With no immediate response expected from the Federal Reserve, investors need to be focusing on the long term and finding companies they can rely on to return capital. Now's a great time to check out The Motley Fool's special report: "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich." This free report lists three remarkable companies and offers great advice on how to invest to secure a comfortable retirement. Get your free report now.

At the time this article was published Joel South owns shares of no company listed above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Chesapeake Energy, Apple, and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel, Apple, and Chesapeake Energy. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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