Jobs offer some relief; $2.5 trillion wiped off
London, August 5, 2011
Improved US jobs numbers gave world stocks some relief in an eighth straight session of losses on Friday which had wiped almost $2.5 trillion off values on the week and brought back memories of the 2008 crisis.
Ballooning concern over the slowing global economy and the spread of debt anguish into Italy and Spain weighed heavily on investors.
Wall Street, however, looked set to open higher, gaining back at least some of the previous session's sharp losses, after a US report showed the US economy creating more jobs than expected in July.
The US Labor Department said payrolls increased 117,000 and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent in June. A Reuters survey ahead of the report showed expectations for a rise of 85,000 with the unemployment rate at 9.2 percent.
'We obviously sold off so much that they're just looking for anything that's not that bad,' said Dennis Dick of Bright Trading LLC.
'I'd be scared to dip my toes in here yet. It's a little early to predict.'
There remained widespread demand for policymakers to beef up plans to tackle the euro zone's crisis and prevent the US economy in particular from sliding back into recession.
One investment firm called for a 'shock and awe' approach in Europe, a reference to the US-led aerial assault on Iraq.
Global equities were down 1 percent on the day for a more than 8 percent loss this week. Emerging market shares stumbled 3 percent on the day. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 fell around 0.3 percent. It had lost more than 2 percent before the report.
'The economic outlook is stressing investors to a great degree and sentiment is likely to remain extremely fragile,' said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
'The U.S. economy has been slowing and is moving into a phase where we are going to see spending cuts enforced. Investors are concerned as to where future growth will come from with this backdrop of debt for so many governments.'
China and Japan called for global cooperation and French President Nicolas Sarkozy was to discuss the financial markets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Apart from signs that the US and global economy are weakening -- despite record low interest rates and the pumping of liquidity into the system -- the focus was clearly on Europe, where bond yields in Spain and Italy have been blowing out, threatening the same kind of refinancing problems that have already smitten Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
The European Central Bank disappointed investors on Thursday by buying Irish and Portuguese bonds but not Italian or Spanish.
'Would the ECB please get serious,' Berenberg private bank said in a note. 'We need a circuit breaker to stop the vicious circle in which fear feeds on fear.'
The Swiss franc -- which the Swiss central bank has tried to weaken this week -- hovered near record highs against the euro and dollar, while the yen rose. Both are considered safe haven currencies.
The franc rose to a record high against the euro of 1.0710 francs in early Asian trade but retreated to 1.0863 in European dealing on fears of official action to weaken the currency. - Reuters