U.S. stocks opened lower on Wednesday, as investors grappled with a number of weaker-than-expected economic reports that suggested the economy continues to grow at a slow pace.
The S&P 500 was down 13 points, or 0.6%, to 2,050, led by a sharp drop in financial shares, down 1.1%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 125 points, or 0.7%, to 17,624 shortly after the open, weighed by losses for Travelers Cos. Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., both down 1.2%
Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite began the session down 30 points, or 0.6%, at 4,733.
The ADP employment number for April came in at 156,000, well short of the 200,000 jobs expected, showing that private payroll gains slowed markedly in April. The report is seen as a precursor to the top-tier nonfarm-payrolls data out on Friday, which are closely watched as they are seen as playing a big part in determining the future path for Federal Reserve interest rates.
Meanwhile, the productivity of U.S. businesses and workers fell by a 1% annual rate in the first quarter, marking the fourth decline in the past six quarters.
On the bright side, the U.S. trade deficit shrank in March to its lowest level in more than a year, but the plunge still reflected a tough climate for American exporters and more caution on the part of consumers.