By TOBY STERLING
AMSTERDAM (AP) â¿¿ Most stock markets fell sharply Friday after weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data raised concern about the recovery in the world's largest economy.
Japan's Nikkei stock index was a notable standout, hitting a four-year high when it closed earlier as investors cheered the central bank's new policies.
In other regions, attention was focused on the U.S. data, which showed an increase of only 88,000 jobs in March, far below the expected rise of about 195,000. Although the unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent, that was only because more people gave up looking for work.Analysts said the figures showed the U.S. recovery, which had been advancing at a good pace in recent months, would be uneven. They suggested it would be only a temporary slowdown, however. "We don't anticipate the slowdown becoming too severe, not when the housing recovery is firing on all cylinders, but it is a reminder that the US is still unable to sustain what used to be just average rates of growth," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. Britain's FTSE 100 ended Friday 1.41 percent lower at to 6,254 while Germany's DAX dropped 2 percent to 7,658. France's CAC 40 index lost 1.7 percent to 3,663. The jobs data sent Wall Street lower, with the Dow shedding 0.75 percent to 14,497 and the broader S&P 500 down by 0.9 percent to 1,546. Earlier, the attention in markets had been on Japan, where the Nikkei surged for a second straight day after the central bank's new governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, unveiled plans to pump huge amounts of money into the financial system to spur price rises, spending and borrowing in an economy that has stagnated for years. The central bank said it wanted to double the money supply and achieve a 2 percent inflation target within about two years. Kuroda described the scale of monetary stimulus as "large beyond reason," but said the inflation target would remain out of reach if the central bank stuck to incremental steps.