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Stocks slide...Survey finds fewer jobs added...Factory activity, construction spending slow...A good April for automakers

Wednesday - 5/1/2013, 12:01pm  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are lower in early trading on Wall Street, amid a mixed bag of economic reports. Merck is leading the Dow lower after the drug maker's quarterly profit fell 8 percent and it cut its profit forecast for the year. Sales have been hurt by competition from generic drugs.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A survey finds U.S. companies added the fewest jobs in seven months in April. Payroll processor ADP says private employers added just 119,000 jobs last month. And March's hiring was slower than first thought: the survey shows just 131,000 added, down from an initial estimate of 158,000. Manufacturers cut 10,000 jobs, while construction firms added 15,000.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A trade group for purchasing managers says U.S. factory activity expanded at a slower pace in April compared with March as manufacturers pulled back sharply on hiring and cut their stockpiles. The Institute for Supply Management says its index of manufacturing activity slipped to 50.7, down from 51.3 in March and the slowest pace this year. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. A measure of hiring fell to 50.2, the lowest level since November.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Spending on U.S. construction projects fell in March as the biggest drop in government projects in more than a decade overwhelmed strength in home building. The Commerce Department says construction spending fell 1.7 percent in March, compared with February, the second decline in the past three months. But construction activity was still 4.8 percent higher in March than a year ago at a seasonally adjusted $856.7 billion.

DETROIT (AP) -- Ford, GM, Chrysler and Nissan are all reporting double-digit U.S. sales increases last month, signaling the best April for car and truck sales in six years. The only laggard was Volkswagen, with a sales decline of 10 percent. The gains are another sign that Americans continue to buy cars and trucks despite high unemployment and mixed economic signals.

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