Business Roundup for Friday, April 4.


New York Stock Exchange (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)


NEW YORK (AP) — Technology stocks fell sharply in afternoon trading Friday, bringing the broader market lower. Mixed signals in the government's monthly jobs report left investors with little reason to cheer. The government reported that U.S. employers added more workers to their payrolls last month, but the overall report presented a mixed picture, and the unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 23 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,865 as of 3:04 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 162 points, or 1 percent, to 16,409. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite plunged 111 points, or 2.6 percent, to 4,126. Technology stocks took a harder fall than the rest of the market. Google and Facebook fell 5 percent, while Microsoft and Amazon fell 3 percent. Utilities, which investors buy to play it safe and collect dividend payments, bucked the downward trend. The Dow Jones Utility Average increased 0.4 percent. Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and other big corporations whose stocks are often less volatile than the broader market made gains. Coca-Cola climbed 23 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $38.31.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department says employers added 192,000 jobs in March, slightly below February's total of 197,000. Employers also added 37,000 more jobs in January and February than previously estimated. The percentage of Americans working reached almost 59 percent, its highest point since 2009. And officials say private employers have finally regained all the jobs lost to the recession that began more than six years ago. Last month's unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder says the Justice Department is investigating high-frequency stock trading to see if any of the practices violate insider trading laws. In remarks prepared for a House hearing, Holder says the Justice Department is "committed to ensuring the integrity of our financial markets." Brokerage firms use high-frequency trading to get a jump on their competitors. The practice has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months.

BARRE, Vt. (AP) — State officials are revolting against a powerful new painkiller that some fear could make the battle against prescription drug abuse even harder. Yesterday, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin announced an emergency order that would make it harder for physicians to prescribe a new class of drugs that includes Zohydro. Last week, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick banned Zohydro. Maker Zogenix says its new drug is no more potent than other hydrocodone medications.

NEW YORK (AP) — Nest Labs is disabling a feature on its smoke alarms because owners could unintentionally deactivate it with the wave of a hand. The maker of high-tech home monitoring devices developed technology that allows owners to turn off the alarm at a distance, among other things. But the company says that a "unique combination of circumstances" could delay an alarm in the event of a real fire. Nest is halting sales of all new Nest Protect alarms until the software is updated.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — International stock markets were largely muted today, though European stocks opened with modest gains in early trading after the European Central Bank refrained from further easing of monetary policy and investors looked to the upcoming U.S. jobs report for a new trading cue. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose to just under $101 a barrel. The dollar gained against the euro and fell against the yen.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation now has its best chance yet to address what has been a source of heartache for families -- the issue of uranium mining waste in the mountains of northeastern Arizona. The federal government says it has reached a $5.15 billion settlement with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. for the cleanup of thousands of long-contaminated sites nationwide. About $1 billion will go to the 50 sites on the country's largest American Indian reservation.

NEW YORK (AP) — The former licensee for clothing maker Ecko Unltd. is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to court filings, MEE Apparel and Mee Direct, which sell clothing under the brand names Ecko Unltd. and Unltd., say they have about $30 million in assets and $62 million in debt. The youth-focused lifestyle brand says sales and profitability have been declining since the start of 2009 because of the recession and changes in fashion trends.

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