Economic Numbers Capture Investor Attention

The major U.S. indices ended mixed Thursday as investors expressed anxiety over employment numbers due out Friday and statistics that showed the productivity of American workers grew at a slower-than-expected rate in the first quarter while labor costs continue to increase.

The Labor Department reported Thursday non-farm payrolls grew 2.4 percent in the first quarter, lower than the 3 percent economists had forecast. The government also revised productivity numbers for the fourth quarter to show a growth of 6.9 percent. Meanwhile, labor costs jumped 1.8 percent in the first quarter, well ahead of the 1 percent hike expected. Both numbers are closely watched by the Federal Reserve as worker shortages can cause inflation to increase.’s Internet Stock Index slumped 10.18, or 1.37 percent, to 732.12, the Nasdaq Composite added 13.04 to 3,720.35 and the Dow Jones industrial average lost 67.01 to 10,413.02.

Several Net shares turned in solid performances. They included Inktomi Corp. (INKT) , up 2-3/64 to 147-15/64. The maker of Internet infrastructure software Thursday formed a wireless agreement with Nokia Corp. (NOK) and an advertising agreement with Doubleclick Inc. (DCLK)

Sapient Corp. (SAPE) soared 22-13/16 to 102-13/16. The company, which helps corporations build Internet-enabled business systems, will replace Reynolds Metals Co. in the S&P 500.

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) added 2-1/8 to 124-3/16. Wit/Soundview upgraded shares to a “strong buy,” setting a $170 target.

On the losing side, Inc. (HOMS) lost 1-1/8 to 22. The company reported a first-quarter pro-forma loss of 14 cents, 2 cents better than expected.

Eon Communications (EONC) dove 3-1/16 to 6-1/4. The company, which provides Linux-based Internet and voice communications warned it will lose between 7 and 10 cents in its third quarter. The three analysts who follow the company were forecasting a loss of only a penny.

Charles Schwab (SCH) slumped 2-3/16 to 43-1/16. The brokerage Thursday announced plans for a 3-for-2 stock split to take effect May 30.

ZDNet (ZDZ) recovered losses of more than $1 to end off 15/16 to 14-1/2. The online technology publisher reported a net loss of 2 cents a share in the first quarter, 2 cents better than expected.

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