There is no single reason why investors have grown skittish. Some are concerned about Spain’s debt crisis, with Spanish bond yields rising. Others are concerned about the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s March policy meeting released earlier this week, showing the Fed may be less inclined to continue boosting the economy through monetary stimulus.
But job seekers got some good news yesterday. Private payrolls processor Automatic Data Processing (NYSE:ADP) said a robust 209,000 private sector jobs were created in March. That’s an indication that Friday’s government jobs report will also be strong. Economists expect 203,000 jobs were created last month, marking the fourth consecutive month with gains above 200,000.
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Those expectations aren’t consoling investors. Stocks sold off yesterday, with the Dow and S&P 500 wrapping up their second worst declines this year. The Nasdaq fell 1.5%, its biggest drop in 2012.
European equities are down sharply Thursday, and U.S. stock futures are indicating another lower open, as investors weigh a rise in both Spanish and Italian 10-year bond yields, plus a report showing UK manufacturing grinding to a halt last month, with a -1% March manufacturing number vs. expectations of up 0.1%.