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U.S. stock indexes slide

NEW YORK, May 4 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes headed down Tuesday in early afternoon trading following a lower-than-expected report on non-manufacturing activity in April.


The Dow Jones industrial average was off 95.78 points or 0.75 percent to 12,711.70 trading.

The Nasdaq composite dropped 23.56 or 0.83 percent to 2,818.05.

The Standard & Poor's 500 was down11.19 or 0.82 percent to 1,345.43.

The Institute for Supply Management's index of non-manufacturing registered 52.8 percent in April, 4.5 points lower than March, but still showed growth for the 17th straight month. Payroll giant Automatic Data Processing reported private-sector jobs in the United States rose 179,000 in April, less than economists' forecast of a job gain of 200,000.

"There's a general malaise around what the next order of economic activity will be," Mitch Rubin, chief investment officer at River Park Advisers, told The Wall Street Journal.

The 10-year treasury note was 3.21 percent.

The euro was $1.485, up from Tuesday's $1.4822. Against the yen, the dollar was 80.5355, compared to Tuesday's 80.98 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei was closed for a public holiday.

In London, the FTSE closed at 5,984.07, off 98.81 points, or 1.62 percent.


Runnin' a rental on empty costly on return

WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- If you thought prices at U.S. gas stations were high, try turning in a rental vehicle without filling the tank and face paying about $9 a gallon.

A survey of auto rental gas prices at 13 major U.S. airports April 25 indicated Hertz charged $9.29 a gallon at all 13 locations while Dollar and Thrifty charged $8.99 a gallon at two, USA Today reported Wednesday.

At $9.29 a gallon, Hertz clients renting a Ford Club Wagon with a 35-gallon fuel tank would owe Hertz $325.15 for gas if the wagon was returned with the gas needle hovering near empty and didn't prepay for the gas, the survey found.

Prepaying, however, could mean a lower per-gallon price than at local gas stations, USA Today said.

Of 102 prepay prices charged by the eight major big car rental companies at 13 airports on April 25, 54 were less than the average price at local gas stations that day. The pre-pay price was higher at 43 rental counters than at a gas station, the analysis of rental company prices and the AAA auto club's gas-station data found.

Prepayment can benefit renters who return vehicles with a nearly empty gas tank. But the survey indicated renters who pay ahead typically return vehicles with a substantial amount of gas in the tank and don't receive a credit.


Most or all rental companies' prepay prices were less than the local gas stations at Chicago's O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York's JFK and LaGuardia and Seattle-Tacoma airports, the survey found. Most or all prepay prices were higher than local gas station prices at the Atlanta, Denver and Miami airports. The survey indicated four rental companies at Boston, San Francisco and Washington Reagan airports were lower than the average at nearby gas stations, while four were higher.

Italian architect to revamp Athens coast

ATHENS, Greece, May 4 (UPI) -- Italian architect Renzo Piano has been commissioned to revitalize the waterfront of Athens, Greece, to create a new cultural focal point, it was announced.

The $4.4 million project includes a cultural center, national library, opera house and park, and will be financed entirely through the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Italian news agency ANSA reported Wednesday.

The project stretches from the Athenian coastline at Faliro to the Kifissos River, city officials said.

"The renovation of this stretch of coast is aimed at reconnecting the city with its waterfront and giving breathing space to a very dense urban landscape," Piano said. "This project is not about filling space but about empty space, and is less about architecture and more about nature playing the main role, which is to allow the areas of Kallithea and Moschato to breathe."


Plans for the urban renovation project have been presented to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

ANSA said the project is considered an economic boost for Athens as the country struggles with debt repayments and economic distress after receiving bailout funds from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union last year.

Report: April job cuts lowest this year

CHICAGO, May 4 (UPI) -- Employers planned to cut payrolls at a slower pace in April, the lowest level so far this year, a Chicago outplacement firm reported Wednesday.

Planned layoffs of 36,490 employees was 12 percent less than the 41,528 job cuts announced in March, the latest Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. report on planned layoff indicated.

The April layoff total was down 5 percent from April 2010 and was the lowest monthly total of this year, the report said.

Year-to-date, employers announced 167,239 job cuts, 24 percent fewer than the 219,509 layoffs by the same point last year, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said.

Hiring is on the rise as well, the report indicated. So far this year, employers announced plans to add 172,590 new workers, an increase of 149 percent over same period in 2010.

"The slow pace of downsizing suggests employers remain optimistic about business conditions going forward, despite higher energy costs, government deficits and slipping confidence among consumers." Challenger Gray & Christmas Chief Executive Officer John A. Challenger said. "The optimism is evident not only in the lower job-cut figures, but also in announced hiring plans, which have outpaced layoffs through April."


Payroll data compiled by Automatic Data Processing indicated employment in the U.S. private sector grew by 179,000 in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, reported. The figure was a less than March's increase of 201,000.

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