US stocks skid, Dow below 15,000 following global rout

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US stocks shed more than 1.0 percent Wednesday following a global rout as weaker-than-expected data on private jobs creation underscored weakness in the US economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 216.95 points (1.43 per cent) at 14,960.59, closing below 15,000 for the first time in a month.

The broad-based S&P 500 lost 22.48 (1.38 per cent) at 1,608.90, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite fell 43.78 (1.27 per cent) to 3,401.48.

Data releases lowered hopes for the official May job creation and unemployment numbers to be released on Friday.

Payroll firm ADP reported that the US private sector added 135,000 jobs in May, less than the 157,000 jobs analysts had expected, and the ISM purchasing managers index for the services sector showed a pickup in sector growth in May, but a standstill in hiring.

In addition, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, a snapshot of US economic conditions, said the economy continues to grow at a "modest to moderate" speed, suggesting steady but still slow expansion.

The data altogether suggests "no change to the view that GDP in Q2 will be subpar," said Jennifer Lee of BMO Economics.

All 30 Dow blue-chips closed in the red. The biggest loser was Intel, down 2.6 per cent, followed by Alcoa, off 2.2 per cent.

Among leading tech shares, Amazon gained 0.6 per cent while Apple fell 0.9 per cent after the US International Trade Commission banned imports of some older models of the iPhone and iPad in a victory for Samsung in its patent battle with the US rival.

Monsanto plunged 3.1 per cent. The company said it has not ruled out sabotage as a possible cause of the discovery of its genetically engineered wheat growing unauthorised on an Oregon farm.

General Motors slid 2.7 per cent after the US Treasury said it would sell 30 million shares of the automaker as the government continues to exit the bailout. GM shares will be reintroduced to the S&P 500 index after the market close on Thursday.

Discount retailer Dollar General rebounded 3.2 per cent after Tuesday's 9.2 per cent loss on disappointing earnings and a slightly trimmed forecast for the year.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.10 per cent from 2.14 per cent late Tuesday, while the 30-year fell to 3.26 per cent from 3.30 per cent. Bond prices move inversely to yields.