Stocks slide, dollar up on U.S. jobs data, euro zone

LONDON/NEW YORK Fri Feb 5, 2010 11:52am EST

1 of 2. A trader watches a monitor displaying stocks on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange February 4, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global shares slid to three-month lows on Friday as government bonds and the dollar rose on mixed U.S. jobs data and worries about euro zone sovereign debt problems.

The euro fell to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar since May on rising risk aversion. The cost of insuring the debt of some euro zone countries against default hit record highs because of their fiscal deficits.

The dollar was bolstered against both the euro and yen after a report on U.S. payrolls showed American employers cut more jobs in January even as the unemployment rate fell.

The dollar's strength hammered commodity prices, which had fallen sharply on Thursday. Gold and copper slid to three-month lows.

On Wall Street, the Dow and S&P 500 index slipped but the Nasdaq edged higher, and gold cut some losses as the mixed labor market picture suggested recovery from the deepest recession since World War Two would remain uneven.

The U.S. economy shed 20,000 non-farm payroll jobs in January and the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to five-month low of 9.7 percent. Analysts had expected a gain in jobs and a slight rise in the jobless rate.

"It's a series of conflicting data. ... The positive take is basically it wasn't a total disaster, but the flip side of it is you're not seeing a recovery," said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at Channel Capital in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.

The MSCI all-country world index .MIWD00000PUS fell 1.7 percent, hitting its lowest since early November. European shares .FTEU3 fell to two-month lows, following sharp falls in Asia.

At 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dropped 19.87 points, or 0.20 percent, to 9,982.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 0.73 point, or 0.07 percent, to 1,062.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC gained 5.48 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,130.91. .

The euro fell as low as $1.3639. The single currency has been under pressure all week as widening government bond spreads highlighted concerns over the ability of some euro zone governments to pay their debts. The bond prices of heavily indebted euro zone countries, including Greece, Portugal and Spain, fell sharply.

The cost of insuring Greek, Portuguese and Spanish debt against default, measured by credit default swaps, hit record highs on Friday.

The concern over sovereign credit has also begun to knock confidence in markets beyond the euro zone.

Stocks in emerging markets have fallen sharply in the past two weeks, with a key index .MSCIEF at a three-month low.

Crude oil fell 30 cents to $72.84 a barrel after hitting intraday low of $72.42 on Thursday.

Spot gold fell $5.80 to $1,057.20 after touching a three-month low of $1,049.50 an ounce.

U.S. government debt prices rose in choppy trading. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 5/32 in price to yield 3.59 percent.

(Reporting by Richard Leong and Nick Olivari in New York; Christopher Johnson in London; writing by Herbert Lash; Editing by Kenneth Barry)


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