GLOBAL MARKETS-US stock futures hammered on US jobs data

Fri Apr 6, 2012 9:24am EDT

* Stock futures fall as March U.S. payrolls disappoint

* Europe, U.S. and some Asia markets closed for holiday

* Euro rallies, off three-week lows vs dollar

* Gold heads for weekly loss

By Chikako Mogi and David Gaffen

NEW YORK/TOKYO, April 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures fell more than 1 percent and Treasuries prices rallied in a holiday-thinned session on Friday following disappointing U.S. job growth for March.

U.S. payrolls grew by 120,000 in March, far below the expected gain of 203,000 jobs.

Trading volumes were light because of the Good Friday holiday and market closings in Europe, and Treasuries rallied sharply, with the benchmark 10-year note gaining 26/32 to drop its yield to 2.10 percent.

S&P 500 futures fell 16.2 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1374, suggesting a weak open on Monday as the cash market is closed Friday. Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 1.1 percent, or 31.25 points, to 2722.75 in thin trading. Dow futures dropped 137 points, or 1.1 percent, to 12,847.

The euro rose against the dollar to $1.3092 after hitting a three-week low of $1.3035 on Thursday and was poised for its worst week in nearly four months, while the dollar index , measured against key currencies, slipped from three-week highs to 79.86.

The weak payrolls report could renew hopes for more monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve. This week's release of minutes from its March meeting suggested less of an appetite for more stimulus despite committee members expressing worries about the sluggish pace of U.S. growth.

"This is going to keep the Fed in easy-policy mode," said Sean Incremona, economist at 4cast Ltd in New York.

"They're going to want to see a step toward 300,000 before they start to think about seeing a stronger outlook for the economy."

The S&P 500's loss for the week of 0.7 percent was its biggest weekly decline of the year as yields on Spain's debt continued to march higher and its equity market plumbed lows not seen since the height of the euro zone's crisis last year.

Spain's rising bond yields, which have revived concerns about Europe's debt problems, could temper buying interest in coming weeks.

U.S. markets next week will focus on the beginning of earnings season, as bellwethers J.P. Morgan Chase & Co and Google Inc are expected to report results.

Trading was thin as markets in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore were closed for the long Easter holiday weekend.

Asian shares struggled earlier on Friday as investors stuck to the sidelines, avoiding risk after rising yields in weaker euro-zone economies refuelled concerns about the region's debt issues.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan inched higher with a 0.09 percent gain. The index hit a four-week low on Thursday.

A slew of data due next week from China, the world's second largest economy after the United States, also deterred investors from taking positions, as signs of sharper-than-expected slowdown could further undermine sentiment.

Gold ticked higher to $1,637.99 an ounce in thin trade on Friday but was headed for a weekly decline of more than 2 percent. Bullion hit a near three-month low of $1,611.80 this week. Metals futures markets are closed Friday.

Oil rose on Thursday after two straight days of losses on firm U.S. data and fears of Iran-related supply disruptions. Brent crude futures climbed 0.89 percent to settle at $123.43 a barrel, and U.S. crude jumped 1.81 percent to settle at $103.31. Energy futures trading is closed Friday.

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