NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar slumped against the euro and yen and stocks fell on Thursday as investors turned defensive ahead of growing worry that Friday's U.S. jobs report will disappoint.
Wall Street slipped, extending losses after a 1.9 percent drop in the previous two days, as the S&P 500fell through its 50-day moving average, an indicator of a weakening trend.
Investors were actively moving away from long positions in the dollar against the yen and in both U.S. and Japanese stocks. Nikkei futures slumped more than 3 percent in electronic trading after another decline in Japan's markets during the regular trading session.
Sentiment in the market seems to have shifted in the last couple of hours toward worry that the monthly U.S. nonfarm payrolls report will be weaker than expected after several lackluster economic data points this week.
The market's bias remains "to the downside given all the nervousness ahead of the report tomorrow," said Leo Grohowski, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management in New York.
Optimism has dimmed in recent days, and with that came an unwind of trades that have produced big gains in recent months ahead of the jobs figures. The dollar fell to a three-and-a-half month low against the euro as the single currency spiked to $1.3294, up 1.5 percent.
Dollar/yen was getting crushed, down 2.9 percent to 96.33, a six-week low. Coming into this week, speculators in the yen had a net short position of more than 99,000 contracts, the biggest such short position this year, according to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data.
Fears about reduced stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve, along with worries about the effectiveness of Japan's radical economic stimulus, have rocked global equity markets, leaving MSCI's world equity index near six-week lows.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 76.93 points, or 0.51 percent, at 14,883.66. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 5.93 points, or 0.37 percent, at 1,602.97. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 14.80 points, or 0.44 percent, at 3,386.67.
The declines caused investors to shift to safe-haven government debt. The U.S. benchmark 10-year bond rose 16/32 to drop its yield to 2.04 percent after briefly touching 2 percent.
The euro was stronger earlier after the European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged and ECB President Mario Draghi said further monetary support was not likely in the near future.
The ECB, as widely expected, kept its interest rate at a record low 0.5 percent, deciding to wait for signs of the economic turnaround it has predicted for the region in the second half of the year.
Draghi, at a news conference afterwards, said the ECB was technically ready for negative deposit rates, the rate it pays commercial banks to hold their money, but there was no reason to act right now.
The MSCI world index was down 0.1 percent on the day and the FTSEurofirst 300 fell 1.2 percent.
Earlier the Bank of England also chose to leave its loose monetary policy unchanged at the conclusion of the final policy meeting under current Governor Mervyn King, after recent data pointed to a tentative pick-up in activity.
PULLBACKS AROUND THE WORLD
Another volatile session for Japan's Nikkei stock index on Thursday, which ended below 13,000 for the first time in two months, undermined Asian market sentiment, sending shares to fresh 2013 lows.
Brazil's equity market weakened as well, falling 0.7 percent to 52,287.67, which would mark its lowest close since October 2011.
In commodity markets, oil prices gained after a report on a big drop in U.S. oil stocks. Brent crude rose 55 cents to $103.59 a barrel. U.S. oil rose $1.11 to $94.84 per barrel.
(Additional reporting by Emelia Sithole-Matarise in London and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, James Dalgleish and Nick Zieminski)