By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEWYORK (Reuters) – Global stocks fell on Friday and the dollar weakened for the first time in eight sessions after a disappointing U.S. payrolls report fanned concerns that the world economy was slowing.
Global economic growth worries remained on the front burner as data in China showed exports shrank 20.7 percent in February from a year earlier while imports fell 5.2 percent.
Help on the trade front to stem any slowdown did not appear to be on the horizon as White House trade adviser Clete Willems said on Friday that Trump administration officials have not made any new plans to send a team to China for face-to-face trade talks, although negotiators have made progress.
U.S. ambassador to China Terry Branstad told the Wall Street Journal that the two sides have yet to set a date for a summit as neither feels a deal is imminent.
“The market is worried about global growth and it has been worried about global growth for a while, so now you are seeing some confirmation on why the market has been concerned about that,” said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute in St. Louis, Missouri.
Compounding concerns was a U.S. payrolls report that fell well short of expectations, although other measures within the report were strong, sending mixed signals to investors.
“There is a lot of noise in this thing, you almost have to throw this one out the window,” said Wren.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 147.23 points, or 0.58 percent, to 25,326, the S&P 500 lost 21.21 points, or 0.77 percent, to 2,727.72 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 53.73 points, or 0.72 percent, to 7,367.73.
The February data out of Beijing and mixed U.S. payrolls numbers came on the heels of a move by the European Central Bank to slash growth forecasts as it unveiled a new round of policy stimulus on Thursday.
The worries knocked European stock markets lower where the STOXX 600 index suffered its biggest daily percentage drop in a month and worst week this year.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.89 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.89 percent. MSCI’s index was on pace for its worst week since late December.
Even with the lack of clarity around the jobs report, the dollar weakened for the first time in eight sessions. The Swedish crown fell to a 16-year low, before reversing course, as the Riksbank joined its central bank counterparts in Europe and Canada in adopting a cautious outlook.
The dollar index fell 0.35 percent, with the euro up 0.45 percent to $1.1242.
U.S. Treasury debt yields were modestly lower and relatively stable in the wake of the payrolls report. Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 4/32 in price to yield 2.6213 percent, from 2.636 percent late on Thursday.
The growth worries, along with surging U.S. oil supply, dented oil prices. U.S. crude fell 1.61 percent to $55.75 per barrel and Brent was last at $65.31, down 1.49 percent on the day.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish)