By Kristina Peterson U.S. stocks opened lower on the last trading day of the quarter after private-sector jobs dropped more than expected on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) dropped 17 points, or 0.2%, to 10,890 in early trading. All but three of the Dow's components opened in the red. Leading the declines, Boeing (BA) dropped 1%. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) was also weak, down 0.6%. Reversing its Tuesday climb, Verizon (VZ) edged down 0.5%. Offsetting some of the losses, Intel (INTC) rose 0.4%, while Chevron (CVX) ticked up fractionally as crude-oil prices climbed above $83 per barrel. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) slid 0.1%, while the Standard & Poor's 500-share index (SPX) slipped 0.2%. The utilities and telecommunications sectors led the declines, while energy and materials gained. Pouring cold water on investors' hopes for job growth, payroll giant Automatic Data Processors said Wednesday that U.S. private-sector jobs dropped by 23,000 this month, according to their national employment report prepared with consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers. The drop surprised economists, who expected a 40,000 rise. In February, private-sector employment decreased by 24,000, according to ADP's slightly lower revision. The report dampened sentiment broadly, as many investors had been hoping to see positive numbers on Wednesday, two days ahead of the government's key nonfarm payroll report. But the energy sector clung to small gains, as crude-oil prices rose above $83 per barrel following reports that the Obama administration will propose allowing offshore oil and natural-gas exploration and development in a large swath of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The administration plans to announce new steps Wednesday to determine how much oil and natural gas is buried off the coasts of Middle and Southern Atlantic states, though Obama's plan wouldn't allow new oil and gas development off the coasts of Northern Atlantic states or California. Oil drilling and services companies strengthened, including oilfield services giant Schlumberger (SLB), up 0.6%. Pioneer Drilling (PDC) gained 1.8%, while Precision Drilling (PDS)climbed 1.6%. Financials also slipped on Wednesday. In Europe, the German cabinet moved toward a new bank levy to cover the cost of future bailouts, and France said it would pursue a parallel effort as leading world economies weigh strategies for curbing speculation and preventing future crises. Citigroup (C) was down 1.9% in recent trading and Goldman Sachs (GS) slipped 0.7%. The dollar weakened against the euro, but strengthened against the yen. Treasurys advanced, with the 10-year note up 7/32 to yield 3.833%, while gold futures also rose. Among stocks in focus, Honeywell International (HON) was up 1.6% in early trades after upping its first-quarter and full-year earnings forecasts, citing stronger orders and sales, as well as cost controls. But contractor SAIC (SAI) slumped 5.2%, as it warned of a slower-than-anticipated pace of new contract awards, as well as tougher government contracting environment. On the M&A front, Australian coal miner Macarthur Coal rejected a $3 billion takeover approach from U.S. miner Peabody Energy (BTU), which slipped 0.8% in premarket trades.