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May 02, 2012, 11.49 PM IST | Source: Reuters

Global stocks hit by euro zone, US data; euro slides

Global stocks and the euro fell on Wednesday after disappointing news on euro zone manufacturing activity and U.S. private-sector jobs growth reignited concerns about a global economic slowdown.

Global stocks hit by euro zone, US data; euro slides

Global stocks and the euro fell on Wednesday after disappointing news on euro zone manufacturing activity and U.S. private-sector jobs growth reignited concerns about a global economic slowdown.

The data came a day after an index of US factory activity posted its strongest growth rate in 10 months and sent the Dow Jones industrial average to its highest close in four years.

US equities opened lower, while Treasury prices advanced as investors shed stocks and other riskier investments and sought safety in government debt.

Euro zone factories sank further into decline last month, with the downturn hitting Italy and Spain hard and appearing to take root among core members France and Germany. European shares erased earlier gains, with the FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.4 percent.

Investor caution ahead of Friday's key payrolls report also grew after a report showed US private employers added 119,000 jobs in April, well short of expectations.

"It's definitely disappointing. After Tuesday's ISM manufacturing data, the market was primed for an upside surprise, so this definitely takes the steam out of the sails," said Boris Schlossberg, director of currency research at GFT in Jersey City.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 58.27 points, or 0.44 percent, at 13,221.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 8.02 points, or 0.57 percent, at 1,397.80. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 9.30 points, or 0.30 percent, at 3,041.14.

The MSCI world equity index fell 0.5% to 327.70.

The euro fell for a third straight session against the dollar and was last down 0.8% at $1.3130. A rush to safety by investors pushed yields on German 5-year and 10-year bonds to near record lows.

German Bund futures hit a record high of 141.53.

The ECB meets on Thursday, with pressure growing on the bank to use bond buying and other measures to shield weaker euro members from additional pain. Expectations are also growing that the ECB may soon cut borrowing costs, eroding the euro's interest rate advantage.

Oil prices dipped as the weak economic data dampened the demand outlook. Brent crude for June slipped 53 cents to $119.14 a barrel and U.S. crude for June was down 50 cents at USD 105.66.

Gold prices retreated towards USD 1,647 an ounce but remained within its recent ranges as the mixed signals on global growth and waning expectations of further easing in policy by the US Federal Reserves kept investors sidelined.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes traded up 9/32 in price to yield 1.9137%.

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