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US stock futures plunge on dire jobs numbers

In this May 30, 2012 photo, Richard Cohen, right, works with fellow traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. futures augured a lower opening on Wall Street Friday June 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock futures plummeted Friday after the release of a report on the job market that was far weaker than economists expected.

Dow Jones industrial average futures, which fell 100 points before the report came out at 8:30 a.m. EDT Friday, tumbled an additional 100 points within minutes.

A loss of 200 points when the stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. would wipe out what was left of the Dow's gain for the year.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note plunged to 1.46 percent, the lowest on record, from 1.56 percent. That was an indication that investors were flocking to bonds for safety.

U.S. employers created 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent. Economists had forecast a gain of 158,000 jobs.

The Labor Department also said 49,000 fewer jobs were created in March and April than first expected.

The price of gold, which was trading at about $1,550 an ounce before the report, shot up almost $40. For much of the past three years, investors have seen gold as a safe place to put their money during turbulent economic times.

The job picture also darkened elsewhere in the world. Unemployment in the 17 countries that use the euro currency remained at a record-high 11 percent in April,.

In Spain, the latest flashpoint in a crisis over European debt, unemployment spiked to almost 25 percent, and youth unemployment ballooned to 51.5 percent, up from 45 percent last year.

There were also signs that growth China, which was a bulwark during the global recession, is slowing significantly. China's manufacturing weakened in May, according to surveys released Friday.

The European debt crisis is pinching exports from China, and leaders in Europe must decide whether to abandon the severe budget cuts that have lengthened unemployment lines across the continent.

In a positive sign, Chrysler said its U.S. sales jumped 30 percent last month, a sign that Americans remain determined to replace their aging cars and trucks despite the falling stock market and shaky consumer confidence.

The company sold more than 150,000 cars and trucks in May, compared with 115,000 in the same month a year ago. Chrysler brand sales rose 80 percent, while Jeep sales were up 24 percent.

Consumer spending edged up modestly in April, but personal income growth was the slowest in five months, which means there is little clarity ahead for car manufacturers or anyone else.

Consumer spending increased 0.3 percent in April following a revised 0.2 percent gain in March, the Commerce Department said Friday.

Americans' income grew 0.2 percent in April, the poorest showing since incomes fell 0.1 percent in November. The April gain was just half the 0.4 percent March rise.