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Stock market turns lower as tech sector slumps

Matthew Craft, AP Business Writer

Trader William McInerney, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday, April 4, 2014. Stocks are edging mostly higher in early trading Friday after the government reported that U.S. employers added to their payrolls last month. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Technology companies led stock indexes lower in midday trading, as mixed signals in the government's monthly jobs report left investors with little reason to cheer.

The government reported that U.S. employers added more workers to their payrolls last month, but the overall report presented a mixed picture, and the unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 11 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,878 as of 12:45 Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 50 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,523. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite slumped 84 points, or 2 percent, to 4,153.

JOBS REPORT: The Labor Department said employers added 192,000 jobs in March. That's less than economists had expected and also below February's total of 197,000. On the bright side, employers added a combined 37,000 more jobs in February and January than the government first estimated. A half-million Americans started looking for work last month, and many of them found jobs.

MUDDLED REACTION: "It's nothing to get too jazzed up about," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners. A lot of investors have argued that the winter weather held the economy back at the start of the year and that things would turn around as the temperature warmed up. The jobs report, Pavlik said, didn't support their case. "A lot of what people have been saying about payrolls isn't true," he said.

SECTORS: Technology stocks fell more than the rest of the market. Google, Microsoft, Facebook and online services provider Akamai each fell about 3 percent. Utilities, which investors buy when they want to play it safe and collect dividend income, bucked the downward trend. The Dow Jones Utility Average increased 1.4 percent.

Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and other big corporations whose stocks are often less volatile than the broader market gained. Coca-Cola climbed 33 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $38.40.

GRUBHUB POPS: GrubHub jumped 43 percent in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The online food delivery company, which runs the Seamless website, raised $192.5 million in its initial public offering late Thursday, selling shares at $26 each. GrubHub's stock jumped $11 to $37.

NO DEAL: News that a Swedish drug company rebuffed a merger offer from Mylan, the generic drugmaker, sent Mylan's stock higher. Mylan surged $2.05, or 4 percent, to $51.91, the biggest gain in the S&P 500. Meda AB, the Swedish company, didn't explain why its board turned down the proposal.

WRONG TURN: CarMax slumped after the seller of used cars said its quarterly income fell 7 percent as an accounting correction outweighed higher demand for cars. The company's stock slumped $1.80, or 4 percent, to $45.74.

BETTER WEEK: Encouraging economic news has nudged the stock market to fresh highs this week. A string of reports on manufacturing and hiring suggest that the economy is thawing out from a rough winter. The S&P 500 index has crept up nearly 1 percent this week. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 are hovering near record highs.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX added 0.7 percent and France's CAC 40 rose 0.8 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.7 percent. In Japan, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.1 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.2 percent while on mainland China the Shanghai Composite gained 0.7 percent.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: Traders bought U.S. government bonds after the jobs report, pushing Treasury prices up and yields down. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 2.72 percent from 2.80 percent late Thursday. The price of crude oil rose 85 cents to $101.13 a barrel. Gold gained $21 to $1,305.60 an ounce.