The FTSE 100 Index slid by 1.5% today – its third day of losses – as figures showed the world’s largest economy created far fewer jobs than expected in March.
London’s main market ended down 94.3 points at 6,249.8 after US employers added workers at the slowest rate in nine months.
Market falls were echoed in Europe, with the Cac 40 in Paris off by 1.7% and the Dax in Frankfurt down 2%.
Economic fears were compounded by nervousness about a recent outbreak of deadly bird flu in China.
Worries about the impact on global travel sent travel stocks diving in London, with British Airways owner International Airlines Group falling 6.9%, or 17.4p to 234.9p and Thomson owner TUI Travel plunging 14.6p, or 4.7% to 298.6p.
EasyJet, a new entrant to the FTSE 100, shed 6.4%, or 70p to £10.27 after its half-year trading update highlighted continued pressure from fuel prices and the weaker pound.
The prospect of another weekend of cold weather did little for confidence in blue-chip retail stocks, with Next closing down £1.55, or 3.6% at £41.70 and Marks and Spencer off 2.6%, or 10p at 376.8p ahead of a trading update next Thursday.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Eurasian Natural Resources ahead 7.9p at 243.1p, Randgold Resources up £1.30 at £52.90, Fresnillo 22p better off at £13.09 and BAE Systems gaining 3.4p to 386.3p.
Stuart Lamont, of investment manager and financial planning specialist Brewin Dolphin in Aberdeen, noted A.G. Barr up 2.2% to 543.75p, Centrica 0.7% higher at 374.1p and SSE edged adding 0.1% to £15.09.
Among the day’s fallers, Amec lost 4.2% to £10.52, Stagecoach Group dropped 3.8% to 293.25p and Petrofac was off 3.4% at £13.84.