The U.S. stock market had a mini-meltdown on Thursday ahead of Friday's all-important Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report as fears about the global economy slipping into another recession weighed on the sentiment.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 512.76 points, or 4.31 percent; the S&P 500 dropped 60.27 points, or 4.78 percent; while the tech-heavy Nasdaq tumbled 136.68 points, or 5.08 percent.
All three major U.S. indices have now erased all gains made during the year. Over the past ten days, U.S. indices have fallen more than 10 percent. The 4.78 percent slide for the S&P 500 was the worst such drop since Jan. 20, 2009, when it fell 5.28 percent.
"The damage this week is more than last week - translation, more damage from economic fears than debt fears," said Howard Silverblatt, senior index strategist at S&P.
In the U.S., economic data has been downbeat across the board in recent weeks. On Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET, the U.S. government will release the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report, arguably the weightiest economic data in the world.
However, investors are still cautious ahead of Friday's report, which will likely confirm that the U.S. economy created less than 100,000 jobs in July.
The U.S. economy needs at least 100,000 new jobs per month to keep pace with the expansion of the labor market. It needs a lot more than that to lower the unemployment rate and keep climbing out of the Great Recession. Jobs gains were just 18,000 in June and 54,000 in May.
European stock markets declined to 14-month lows on Friday, following a global rout, as investors awaited a jobs report for clues on economic outlook.
DAX30 declined 147.15 points or 2.29 percent to 6,268.46 and FTSE 100 fell 118.31 points or 2.20 percent to 5,274.27, while CAC 40 declined 44.19 points or 1.26 percent 3,278.55.
Among the financials, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. plunged 8.37 percent as the bank sung into loss in the first half due to write-downs on its Greek debt holdings and a charge to cover mis-sold insurance policies.
Among other banks, Barclays plunged 8.47 percent and Lloyds Banking Group PLC plunged 7.75 percent.
Among car makers, PSA Peugeot Citroen declined 4.32 percent and Volkswagen AG declined 3.15 percent.
Asian stocks slumped on Friday, following a similar huge sell-off in global markets overnight, on growing fears that the global economy is sinking into a recession.
Tokyo shares tumbled to their lowest since the post-quake rout in March. Benchmark Nikkei plunged 3.72 percent or 359.30 points to 9,299.88.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index plunged 993.14 points or 4.54 percent to 20,898.52 and Chinese Shanghai composite declined 2.15 percent or 57.62 points to 2,626.42, while Seoul composite tumbled 74.72 points or 3.70 percent to 1,943.75.
Among the financials, Matsui Securities plunged 6.35 percent and Nomura Holdings declined 5.42 percent, while HSBC Holdings PLC plunged 4.47 percent.