Disappointing jobs growth in the U.S., together with shrinking manufacturing and services activity in the euro zone, had equities and commodities in retreat and bond yields down. News this weekend isn't likely to calm jitters, with elections in both Greece and France, which may get its first new socialist president since 1981.
The April jobs report encouraged the view that the U.S. Federal Reserve will extend its stimulus efforts, while bolstering speculation that a rally that lasted from November to March won't begin anew. The climate is ripe for summertime doldrums, and many investors are looking for safe havens.
Markets were mostly down worldwide on fears the buoying effect of a rebounding U.S. economy is becoming less buoyant. That -- complemented by concerns the euro zone's sovereign-debt crisis has much further to go before its resolution -- steered investors toward government bonds. Also restraining the market's animal spirits were Costco Wholesale Corp. (Nasdaq: COST) and Macy's Inc. (NYSE: M) both saying sales are down to their lowest levels since 2009.
Stocks. The Nasdaq posted its biggest one-day decline this year, while all 30 of the companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), the Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) each lost more than 2 percent. Despite better-than-expected earnings, Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE: KFT) shares were also caught in the broader market's downdraft, as they closed down 0.86 percent.
Bonds. Conversely, interest on U.S. Treasurys rose as investors fled for safety. Benchmark 10-year yields slipped to a three-month low, breaking through the floor of an interest-rate threshold that suggests investors are digging in for a summertime slump.
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Currencies. The U.S. dollar declined against the Japanese yen, but strengthened against two currencies linked to global growth: Australia's Aussie and New Zealand's Kiwi. Australia's dollar experienced its biggest weekly drop this year, while New Zealand's dollar shed 2.7 percent this week. India's central bank moved higher the rates Indian banks can offer on some foreign-currency accounts to help stop the rupee's slide.
Commodities. As expected, concerns that the U.S. economy is slowing and virtually no indications of a euro-zone rebound sent all the hydrocarbons down, most notably crude oil, which fell more than 4 percent to below $100 for the first time since February. Soybeans and silver, both of which gained more than 1 percent, were two of the few commodities to rise.