Evidence is piling up that the economic recovery has lost some of its vigor. That has deflated a stock market rally and pushed indexes down for five straight weeks, the longest losing streak since mid-2008.
So, what's next? Don't hold out hope for more help from the government, analysts say. Another round of stimulus spending isn't in the cards, the Fed has already slashed interest rates near zero and has said it will end its bond-buying program on schedule at the end of this month.
With high gas prices crimping consumer spending and companies still reluctant to hire, investors may have to settle for a stock market and an economic recovery that plod slowly along.
"The market is clearly getting used to uneven economic data," said Jeff Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial. "We've moved from a recovery phase to a more modest pace of economic growth."
A weak employment report spurred another stock sell-off Friday, two days after the Dow Jones industrial average had its worst drop in nearly a year. The Dow lost 97.29 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 12,151.26.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 12.78, or 1 percent, to 1,300.16. The Nasdaq composite fell 40.53, or 1.5 percent, to 2,732.78. Each index lost 2.3 percent for the week.
Despite the market's recent slump, analysts say there are still plenty of bright spots in the economy, including business spending and bank lending. The market could still manage to struggle higher this year, Kleintop said, but the ride from here will likely be a long and slow climb. Picture a jagged valley of dips and steps, not a straight shot up or down.
Investors will probably have to scale back their expectations for profits, much as economists from JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and other banks recently lowered their estimates for economic growth. Kleintop expects to see corporations cut their earnings estimates in the coming weeks.
"There will be more days like (Friday)," Kleintop said.
Stocks had a strong start to the year, hitting their highest levels in nearly three years in late April.
But the market has been sputtering since then as troubling signs emerged about the economy. Investors probably overreacted to strong corporate earnings at the start of the year, said Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst with Interactive Brokers.
Stocks fell sharply after the opening of trading but recovered some ground after a report from the Institute for Supply Management came out at midmorning. The group of purchasing executives said the economy's service sector grew in May for an 18th straight month.
Later in the morning European officials said Greece would receive the next installment of its emergency loan package, lifting some uncertainty about Greece's fiscal crisis.