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Stocks fall sharply after weak data on jobs

Serious doubts about the health of the jobs market and the broader economy have investors on edge.

Stocks are falling sharply Wednesday after private payroll processor ADP said that 179,000 new private sector jobs were added in April, far less than expected. That raised worries about the government’s monthly jobs report for April, which is due out Friday.

The Institute for Supply Management also said its service sector index rose at the slowest pace in 8 months. The service industry employs about 90 percent of the U.S. work force, so hints of a slowdown have implications for the overall economy.

In midday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average is down 109 points, or 0.9 percent, at 12,698. The Standard & Poor’s 500 is down 13, or 0.9 percent, at 1,344.