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Stocks finish lower on mixed earnings, Ukraine

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 2, 2014 at 4:06 pm •  Published: May 2, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Major U.S. stock indexes ended lower on Friday as a surprisingly strong report on job gains failed to impress investors.

Stocks rose in the early going after the government reported that U.S. employers hired at the fastest pace in two years last month. The Standard and Poor's 500 index briefly rose above its record closing high.

The market started to slump in late morning trading on news of downed helicopters and killed fighters in eastern Ukraine. Early Friday Ukrainian government forces attacked pro-Russian insurgents in the region.

All three indexes wavered between gains and losses for most of the day.

Among the biggest losers was LinkedIn. The online professional networking service fell 8 percent after reporting its largest quarterly loss since going public. Expedia, the online travel site, fell nearly 4 percent, and Pfizer fell 1.3 percent after the drug company's latest offer to buy AstraZeneca was rejected by its board.

In the jobs report, the government said employers added 288,000 jobs in April, 70,000 more than expected. Hiring was stronger in the prior two months than initially estimated, too. The unemployment rate for April plunged to 6.3 percent, the lowest since September 2008.

A few details of the report were less encouraging. The drop in the unemployment rate likely reflected long-term jobless who had been out of work for six months or more before finally giving up looking for work. People aren't counted as unemployed unless they're looking for a job.

"Long-term unemployment is higher than expected, but overall (the report) is positive," said Brad Sorensen, director of market and sector research at Charles Schwab. He added, "There isn't a ton of enthusiasm in the market."

Among the stocks taking big hits Friday was Madison Square Garden, which fell $3.62, or 6.6 percent, to $51.47. The owner of sports teams and entertainment venues like Radio City Music Hall said its earnings fell by half in its fiscal third quarter, partly due to a management change and a costly delay for a Rockettes production.

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