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US: Stocks drop on jobs data, Yellen's warning on values

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Wall Street stocks fell for a second straight session on Wednesday following disappointing jobs data and a warning from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on high equity valuations.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks fell for a second straight session on Wednesday following disappointing jobs data and a warning from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on high equity valuations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 86.22 points (0.48 per cent) to 17,841.98.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 9.31 (0.45 per cent) to 2,080.15, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 19.68 (0.40 per cent) at 4,919.64.

Payrolls firm ADP estimated the US added just 169,000 private-sector jobs in April, the second month in a row under 200,000, as the petroleum sector downturn continued to pinch the labour market.

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Fed Chair Yellen, addressing a conference on lessons from the 2008 financial crisis, characterized US stock market valuations as "quite high" and said they pose "potential dangers" to financial stability.

Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, said Ms Yellen's remarks suggested she is "pretty eager" to raise ultra-low interest rates despite some disappointing economic data.

"She seems to be hinting that they're going to have to raise rates one way or the other as long as the economy is growing at all," Low said.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals announced it would buy Synageva BioPharma for US$8.4 billion, creating a bigger player in treatments for rare diseases. Synageva surged 112.2 per cent, while Alexion fell 8.0 per cent.

Dow member Microsoft fell 2.8 per cent following a Bloomberg report that it is considering a takeover bid for Salesforce, which has a market capitalization near US$50 billion. Salesforce rose 1.4 per cent.

Payment services company MoneyGram International surged 21.4 per cent on reports it is in talks to be acquired by Western Union. Western Union, which rose 4.3 per cent, said the reports of the impending deal "are not accurate." Apparel retailer The Children's Place jumped 7.8 per cent after boosting its first-quarter profit forecast from 60-65 cents per share to 81-83 cents per share.

Herbalife, a marketer of nutrition supplements, bolted 16.5 per cent higher after first-quarter net income edged up 4.8 per cent to $78.2 million despite a US$36.3 million charge related to the devaluation of the Venezuelan bolivar.

Bond prices tumbled. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.24 per cent from 2.18 per cent Tuesday, while the 30-year advanced to 2.99 per cent from 2.91 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

AFP

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