Shares fall again as weak US data spark economy fears

Stock markets have fallen after weaker-than-expected jobs data from the US on Friday triggered concerns about the global economic recovery.

Wall Street closed slightly lower, while Germany's Dax index dropped 1.2%. France's Cac 40 opened down but closed slightly higher.

Earlier, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 1.7%, South Korea's Kospi dropped 2.8% and Australia's ASX 200 shed 1.9%.

The US economy added 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest since May 2011.

Analysts said the data indicated the US economic recovery was losing steam.

"It is an admission of what the markets had been fearing," Peter Esho, chief market analyst at City Index told the BBC.

"There was a lot of anecdotal evidence that the US economic recovery had been flattening out and now we have got a confirmation of that."

The US jobs figures hit shares on Friday, with the main Dow Jones index suffering its biggest one-day fall in seven months to close at its lowest level since 21 December last year.

Shares in Europe also suffered sharp falls, with the Dax falling 3.4% and the Cac losing 2.2%. London's FTSE 100, which is closed on Monday for a public holiday, lost more than 1% on Friday.

The oil price also fell further on Monday, with Brent crude dropping $1.12 a barrel to $97.20 following a fall of $3.44 on Friday. US light crude fell by $1.10 to $82.16.

'Totally different animal'

The weak US jobs figures are the latest in a series of bad news for the global economy.

Also on Friday, China reported that manufacturing activity in its biggest factories hit the lowest point this year amid weak domestic demand.

That added to fears about a slowdown in China's overall economy, the world's second-largest and one of its biggest drivers of growth in recent years.

Also on Friday, EU figures showed the eurozone jobless rate at 11% in April, unchanged from March, but still the highest since records began in 1995.

Data published last week also showed that the Indian economy grew at its slowest pace in almost a decade during the first three months of this year.

To add to those woes, the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone has escalated in recent weeks, with politicians openly acknowledging that Greece may be forced to leave the single currency and concerns growing that Spain may struggle to repay its debts.

Analysts said that all these factors were making investors nervous that global growth may slow even further.

"It is a totally different animal that we have never seen before," said Hans Goetti, chief investment officer at Finaport.

"We have literally thrown everything, including the kitchen sink, at the economy, but nothing is working."

Further stimulus?

Analysts said that given the current global economic conditions, they expected policymakers, especially in the US, to take fresh stimulus measures.

The Federal Reserve has used quantitative easing (QE), a process that sees the central bank pump money directly into the economy, in an attempt to boost consumption and growth.

The central bank usually does this by creating money to buy financial assets such as government and corporate bonds.

The Federal Reserve has done this twice since the global financial crisis broke out.

However, some analysts warned that while there is talk of another round of QE taking place, it may not have the desired effect.

"The problem with QE is that it has a big impact on assets prices but not on the overall economy," said Mr Goetti.

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