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Midday Market Update

Stocks in Red After Data

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U.S. Market    
Stocks were down at midday following disappointing jobs and economic data reports.

 Automatic Data Processing (ADP) reported that U.S. private-sector jobs rose by 158,000 in March, worse than the expected monthly gain of 192,000 jobs, as construction employment showed no change. Although ADP's February reading was revised higher by almost 40,000 jobs, the lower-than-expected reading for March has brought down some optimism for an upbeat payrolls report, to be released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management reported that its nonmanufacturing index in March dropped to 54.4 from February's reading of 56.0. It was the lowest tally for the services index since last summer and worse than the expected reading of 55.8. With that said, an index higher than 50 still indicates expanding activity, albeit slower for March.

The Dow was down by 0.4% at midday, and the S&P 500 had lost 0.6%. The Nasdaq was 0.5% lower. 

Stocks on the Move
 Monsanto (MON) posted a 22% increase in second-quarter earnings and a 15% gain in year-over-year revenue. Both readings exceeded Wall Street expectations. The firm also increased its full-year earnings forecast by $0.10. Shares were 1.5% higher at midday.

 ConAgra Foods (CAG) shares fell by 0.8% after the firm reported a 57% dip in third-quarter profit compared with the same time last year. Some of the earnings were hampered by ConAgra's purchase of Ralcorp Holdings. ConAgra's quarterly sales improved by 13%, but the gain was still lower than expected

Despite previous speculation of a breakup of  Vodafone Group's (VOD) assets, 
 Verizon Communications (VZ) said late Tuesday it has no current intention to create a merger deal with the former company, though it did state it is still interested in acquiring Vodafone's stake the Verizon Wireless. Vodafone shares were down by 4.0% at midday, while Verizon shares were 1.2% lower. 

Foreign Markets
European investors showed little enthusiasm Wednesday, as the FTSE 100 lost 1.1%, the Paris CAC fell by 1.3%, and the DAX ended down by 0.9%. 

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite and the Nikkei 225 fell by 0.1%, but the Hang Seng gained 3.0% as the Bank of Japan began a policy meeting.

Kevin O'Shaughnessy does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.