Political discord in Greece, German voters punishing Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, lower euro zone manufacturing output and China freeing up cash for lending all contributed to a global stocks slide as investors pursued safe havens like the dollar.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield touched 1.77 percent, below the key technical resistance point of 1.8 percent. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), a primary dealer of U.S. bonds, said the yield might fall even lower. The seven-year bond hit an historic low. The ten-year German Bunds yield was also teasing a record low. The euro hit a four-month low against the greenback.
China's highly anticipated move to lower its banks' reserve requirements to free up lending might be a positive development in itself because it frees up cash to spur economic growth. But the move also raises the spectre that China's economic slowdown might be more protracted, even if it's not the hard landing that market watchers define as less-than-7-percent quarterly growth.
Stocks. Europe stocks were battered by recent developments -- or lack thereof in the case of Greece. Britain's FTSE fell 1.97 percent, Germany's DAX was down 1.94 percent and France's CAC-40 declined 2.29 percent. Asian stocks, except for Japan's Nikkei, all closed down, as did the Nasdaq, S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Bonds. The U.K., Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands all saw their benchmark bond yields decline on growing European concerns over Greece's future. Italy's and Spain's yield spread with the German bund -- a measure of relative confidence in one bond over the other -- widened greatly. Spain's yield gap was wider than Italy's.
Currencies. Traders ran from the euro and Aussie to the protection of the U.S. dollar, while the Japanese yen rallied.
Commodities. Commodities followed stocks downward. Crude oil for June delivery was down below $95 a barrel as concern of a global slowdown continues to weigh on the price of oil. The Dow Jones UBS-Commodity Index, which measures 19 commodity futures in seven sectors, fell to its lowest point in over a year.