NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks fell more than 2 percent on Friday, dragging the Dow into negative territory for the year after a dismal U.S. jobs report added to fears that Europe’s spiraling debt crisis was dragging down the world economy.
The S&P 500 closed at its lowest since early January and ended below its 200-day moving average for the first time in 2012 after the Labor Department said employers created just 69,000 jobs last month, the weakest in a year.
The bleak May jobs report caps a week of soft economic data from China and growing problems in Europe as Spain’s bank crisis deepened.
The global flight to safety pushed U.S. and German government debt yields to record lows while the VIX .VIX, a gauge of U.S. stock market anxiety, jumped more than 20 percent for the week.
“The vast majority of investors are choosing to panic,” said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
“It’s been pretty clear for the last year that Europe was going to be a drag for the global economy.”
Though steep, Jacobsen said he would view the pullback as a buying opportunity unless it pushed the S&P 500 below 1,250.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 274.88 points, or 2.22 percent, to 12,118.57 at the close. The S&P 500 Index .SPX dropped 32.29 points, or 2.46 percent, to 1,278.04. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 79.86 points, or 2.82 percent, to 2,747.48.
The benchmark S&P 500 ended below its 200-day moving average, which was 1,284.53 late Friday afternoon.
Friday’s decline was the largest daily percentage drop for the S&P 500 since November 9, when a spike in Italian benchmark bond yields sent the broad U.S. stock index down 3.7 percent.
For the week, the Dow fell 2.7 percent, the S&P 500 lost 3 percent and the Nasdaq dropped 3.2 percent.
Financial sector stocks were among the worst hit in Friday’s selloff, with the KBW bank index .BKX down 4.9 percent, its largest daily drop since early November.
“Most investors don’t think the problem in Europe is going to infect the U.S. economy as much as it would the U.S. financial system,” Wells Fargo’s Jacobsen said.
More than six issues fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange, while on the Nasdaq, more than five stocks fell for every one that advanced.
Homebuilders ranked among the weakest stocks. Pulte Group (PHM.N) plunged 11.8 percent to $8.26 while D.R. Horton (DHI.N) lost 8.4 percent to $15.21. The PHLX housing sector index .HGX fell 6.3 percent, but it was still up nearly 14 percent for the year.
In one of the few positive moves of the day, Newmont Mining (NEM.N) surged 6.7 percent to $50.30 and Barrick Gold (ABX.N) added 7.3 percent to $41.91 as the price of gold scored its biggest one-day rise in slightly more than three years. <GOL/>
More than 8.3 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and Amex, about 21 percent higher than the year-to-date daily average of 6.85 billion shares.
Reporting by Rodrigo Campos,; Editing by Dave Zimmerman and Jan Paschal