[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks tumbled for the second day in a row on Wednesday as data showing weak US private-sector hiring raised worries about Friday's jobs report for April.
US companies added a modest 156,000 jobs in April, about 40,000 less than analysts had expected, and down from 194,000 in March, said payrolls group ADP.
The data was released two days before the Department of Labor's April jobs report.
"You see people take risk exposure off to prepare themselves for a possible worst-case scenario on Friday," said Michael James managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.
Still, some analysts noted that the ADP report is historically a poor indicator of what comes out in the official report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.6 per cent at 17,651.26.
The broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.6 per cent to 2,051.12, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.8 per cent to 4,725.64.
US airlines dropped after Air France-KLM warned that the industry outlook was "highly uncertain" due to various factors, including volatile fuel prices and industry overcapacity in some markets. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Continental all fell more than three percent.
Priceline plunged 7.5 per cent after projecting second-quarter earnings of between US$11.60 and US$12.50 per share, well below analyst expectations of US$14.98.
CBS rose 1.6 per cent after reporting a 21 per cent rise in first-quarter net income to US$473 million.
The broadcaster pointed to strong advertising sales, especially for the Super Bowl American football championship, and said advertising should do well the rest of the year "as political spending ramps up."
Biotech company Medivation rose 2.7 per cent following a report that it was approached by Pfizer about a possible takeover. Medivation last week rejected an unsolicited bid from French giant Sanofi. Pfizer lost 0.9 per cent.