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Stocks slumping...Fed: Growth improving modestly...Small business hiring picking up

Wednesday - 6/5/2013, 3:28pm  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Traders looking to sell are finding reason for it in some of this morning's economic data. A handful of reports out suggest the economy is growing at a sluggish pace, with private employers adding fewer jobs last month than economists had forecast and orders to U.S. factories also weaker than expected. In afternoon trading, the Dow was off as much as 180 points, dipping below 15,000. The broader indexes were also sharply lower.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve's Beige Book survey finds economic growth increased throughout the United States from April through mid-May. Eleven of the Fed's banking districts reported "modest to moderate" economic growth, while the 12th, Dallas, reported strong growth. Fed members have said they want to see "strong and sustained growth" before scaling back its bond purchases.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Reports out this week indicate small businesses are gradually increasing the pace of hiring. Payroll company ADP says its small business customers added 58,000 jobs last month, compared with 50,000 in April. And software maker Intuit says its small business customers added 35,000 jobs last month. Small businesses account for about half the nation's employment, and many economists say the recovery can't gain strength unless small businesses increase hiring.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government says U.S. workers were more productive in the first three months of the year. The Labor Department says productivity rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.5 percent in the first quarter. That followed a 1.7 percent decline in the previous quarter. Labor costs fell from January through March, dropping at an annual rate of 4.3 percent after surging in the fourth quarter.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Securities and Exchange Commission is proposing stricter regulations for money-market mutual funds in an effort to better inform investors and protect the industry from risks that surfaced at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. One proposal would allow shares of some money-market funds to "float", instead of having a fixed value of $1 per share. That's a fundamental shift because investors could lose principal if the value falls below $1. The public has 90 days to comment on the proposals.

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