US stocks plunge after disappointing jobs report

US stocks plunged on Friday after a surprisingly weak labor report showed a sharp deceleration in job creation in March.

In the first 45 minutes of trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 154.50 points (1.06 percent) to 14,451.61.

The broad-based S&P 500 tumbled 18.32 (1.17 percent) to 1,541.66, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 48.55 (1.51 percent) to 3,176.43.

The Labor Department said the US added only 88,000 jobs in March, a third of the February gain, while the unemployment rate ticked down by a tenth of a point to 7.6 percent due to people dropping out of the workforce.

Job creation slumped to its weakest level since June 2012, and was far below the 192,000 jobs that analysts had on average expected.

The pullback in jobs gains "was simply awful," said Fred Dickson, chief investment strategist at DA Davidson & Co.

"This piece of economic data adds some uncertainty regarding an economic surge needed near-term to push stock prices meaningfully higher," he said.

Market sentiment was also under pressure from the worries regarding North Korean intentions after reports indicated Pyongyang had ordered two missiles to be relocated to North Korea's east coast, said.

Financials and tech stocks in particular suffered. On the Dow, American Express slid 2.8 percent and Bank of America lost 1.1 percent.

Blue-chips Microsoft fell 0.8 percent, IBM was down 1.7 percent and United Technologies dropped 1.1 percent.

Oil majors Chevron lost 1.0 percent and ExxonMobil fell 1.3 percent.

Dow member Hewlett-Packard shed 1.6 percent after announcing its non-executive chairman Raymond Lane has decided to step down in a shakeup of the board of directors at the struggling US computer giant.

Wall Street stocks closed higher on Thursday after the Bank of Japan's monetary stimulus plan boosted sentiment. The rose 0.38 percent, the S&P 500 added 0.40 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.20 percent.

Bond prices soared. The yield on the 10-year Treasury plummeted to 1.70 percent from 1.76 percent Thursday, while the 30-year yield skidded to 2.87 percent from 2.99 percent. Bond prices move inversely to yields.