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May 31, 2012 at 5:43 PM
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Discouraging data drops stocks

NEW YORK, May 31 (UPI) -- U.S. markets closed lower Thursday, as data on jobs and the gross domestic product undermined confidence.

Payroll firm Automatic Data Processing Inc.'s report on private-sector jobs came in with job gains below expectations.

ADP, issuing a report delayed by a day due to the Memorial Day holiday, said 133,000 jobs were added to the economy in May, 20,000 more than the downwardly revised April figure of 113,000 but less than the consensus forecast of 148,000.

The Commerce Department revised its first quarter gross domestic product estimate lower, from 2.2 percent growth to 1.9 percent.

By close of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 26.41 points, or 0.21 percent, to 12,393.45. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 2.99 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,310.33. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 10.02 points, 0.35 percent, to 2,827.34.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,468 stocks advanced and 1,564 declined on a volume of 3.8 billion shares traded.

The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 18/32 to yield 1.563 percent.

The euro fell to $1.236 from Wednesday's $1.2366. Against the yen, the dollar hit 78.36 from 79.07 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index dropped 1.05 percent, 90.46 points, to 8,542.73.

In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.18 percent, 9.67, to 5,306.95.

GM goes with soccer for marketing

DETROIT, May 31 (UPI) -- U.S. automaker General Motors announced a five-year marketing deal with a British soccer club that symbolizes a renewed focus on foreign markets.

Pointing specifically to China and Brazil as countries where GM is focusing its marketing campaigns, GM's Chief Marketing Officer Joel Ewanick said the company had signed a deal with Manchester United, a soccer club that boasts 559 million fans.

That is larger than the combined fan base of the National Football League, which is about 400 million, the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.

Around the world, soccer, in total, has about 3.5 billion fans, the newspaper said.

GM, which said this year it would drop the Super Bowl and Facebook as advertising venues, said its deal with the soccer franchise includes advertising in the team's stadium, seats for the team that bear the Chevrolet logo, and sponsorship of the Chevrolet China Cup, which will take place in July in two Chinese cities as part of the British team's 2012 tour.

As a graphic comparison between football and soccer, GM's Chief Marketing Officer Joel Ewanick said he attended a soccer game in Britain that drew a television audience twice the size of the Super Bowl. "And that was just a league match," he said.

Layoff announcements jumped in May

CHICAGO, May 31 (UPI) -- U.S. employers announced a reduction of 61,887 jobs in May, the most since September, a private research group said.

Total job cuts announced for the month were up 53 percent from the previous month's total of 40,559 announced job cuts, outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas said Thursday.

The month's total is 67 percent higher than May 2011, when job cut announcements came to 37,135.

For the year to date, layoff announcements, at 245,540, are 20 percent higher than they were in the same period in 2011.

A month ago the year-to-date total was 9 percent higher than the first four months of 2011.

The report said job cuts in May were "dominated" by the computer industry, which announced 27,754 layoffs in the month.

The bulk of these cuts came from Hewlett-Packard, which announced 27,000 job cuts, a move that was long anticipated.

For the year to date, the computer sector has announced 32,599 job cuts. More are likely, said Challenger, Gray & Christmas chief executive officer John Challenger.

"We may see more job cuts from the computer sector in the months ahead. While consumers and businesses are spending more on technology, the spending appears to favor a handful of companies. Those that are struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing trends and consumer tastes are shuffling workers to new projects or laying them off, altogether," said Challenger.

The Talbots stores sold for $369 million

HINGHAM, Mass., May 31 (UPI) -- Women's clothing retailer The Talbots Inc. said Thursday it has agreed to sell itself to New York private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $369 million.

The deal comes to $2.75 in cash per common share, a price 113 percent above the closing price May 30 and a 76 percent premium above the closing price Dec. 6, 2011, when news of the deal became public, Talbots said in a statement.

"We believe in the Talbots brand and its more than 8,000 associates," said Stefan Kaluzny, a managing director at Sycamore Partners.

"We look forward to a long and successful partnership with Talbots serving its many loyal customers," he said.

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