Stocks sag...Private employers add fewer jobs...Home prices rising

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Associated Press

Posted on April 3, 2013 at 10:02 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are heading lower on Wall Street this morning following a weak survey on hiring last month. The Dow dropped about 30 points in the first hours of trading, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also slid.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Payroll processor ADP says private employers added 158,000 jobs last month. That's down from February's gain of 237,000. The survey shows construction companies didn't add any jobs in March, after average monthly gains of 29,000 in the previous three months. The Labor Department issues its March jobs report on Friday.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. service companies continued to expand in March, but at a slower pace. The Institute for Supply Management says its index of non-manufacturing activity fell to 54.4 last month from 56 in February. Weaker hiring and orders dragged the gauge down. The report measures growth in industries that cover 90 percent of the work force, including retail, construction, health care and financial services. Any reading above 50 signals expansion.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices jumped in February by the largest amount in seven years. Ahead of the spring buying season, home prices rose 10.2 percent compared with a year earlier. Prices have now increased on an annual basis for 12 straight months, underscoring the housing recovery's steady momentum. Prices rose in 47 of 50 states, with Delaware, Alabama and Illinois the only states reporting declines.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Monsanto reports its income increased 22 percent in its latest quarter. The agriculture products company says strong sales of biotech seeds, particularly in Brazil and other emerging markets, led the gains. The company also boosted its full-year earnings guidance, citing its strong performance in the first half of the year.

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