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Market Closes Off Lows After Jobs Report Jolts Investors

Dan Berman
Hot Stock Minute

A disappointing jobs report for March lead to sharp declines in early trading, but stocks managed to close off their lows today. Still it was a down week for all the major indexes. The S&P 500 closed the week down 1%, while the Nasdaq sunk 2%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell only 0.1% for the week. According to the Labor Department, there were just 88,000 news jobs created last month. That's less than half of expectations which hovered at or near 200,000. Unemployment did tick down to 7.6%, but only because the labor participation rate dropped to 63.3% -the level lowest since 1979.

Facebook (FB) was one of the few tech gainers today. Shares were up 1.2% as investors reacted to the social network's foray into phones. Starting next Friday, AT&T will be first to sell smart phones preloaded with a program called Home which puts Facebook right on the home screen. The phone will be made by HTC and sell for $100. Users of other phones including different HTC devices and the soon-to-be-released Samsung Galaxy S4 will also be able to download the Home software.

Best Buy (BBY) shares recouped early losses and ended higher by 1.2%. Shares spiked 16% yesterday on news that the big box retailer will be creating Samsung boutiques inside its stores. By the way, Best Buy also said it's offering a 30% discount on its current stock of the iPad 3. Shares of Best Buy were trading just over $11 right after Christmas when all the talk was about show-rooming. The stock is now testing $25.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) fell 1.5% today, erasing some gains from yesterday when the company announced a shake-up. Chairman Ray Lane is stepping down saying he wants to reduce distractions. Two weeks ago he barely survived a shareholder revolt. Lane was blamed for his role in HP's costly acquisition of British software maker Autonomy. He'll remain on the company board, but two other members are departing amid the fallout. Even with dips earlier in the week and today, shares Hewlett-Packard have nearly doubled since November.

Shares of F5 Networks (FFIV) tumbled 19% after the company warned that second-quarter net income and revenue will fall short of its expectations. F5 sells IT and networking equipment. It points to a drop in business with the federal government as part of the problem. If you were holding shares of F5, the time to sell was last April when the stock almost hit $140. Right now it's under $80.

Ending on a positive note, JC Penney (JCP) climbed 2.5% as the retailer gave investors and shoppers a glimpse of its new home goods shops --in-store boutiques offering designer home furnishings. The company's full launch will be in early May. CEO Ron Johnson says the home launch will be pivotal to the JCP transformation.