US Job Stats Drive Market Stimulus 'Frenzy'
Stock markets endured a rollercoaster after the release of US employment figures - a crucial indicator on when the Federal Reserve will ease its economic stimulus.
US employers added 169,000 jobs in August and much fewer in July than previously thought, according to the official data.
The slowdown in hiring was initially seen as complicating the Federal Reserve's decision this month on whether to start slowing its monthly $85bn of bond purchases to boost the economy.
Fears over the so-called "tapering" of asset purchases has gripped financial markets for months, reflecting the addiction to cheap credit in the world.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose on opening - alongside the FTSE 100 and other major European markets - but then fell back, closing with little change.
However the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note fell to 2.87% from 2.95% as investor expectations eased about the prospect of rising central bank interest rates.
The UK's 10-year debt yield - the interest rate the country pays to service its debts - also fell back from a two-year high to below 3%.
The US Labor Department said while the unemployment rate dropped to 7.3% in August, the lowest in nearly five years, it fell because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed.
The proportion of Americans working or looking for work fell to its lowest level in 35 years.
July's job gains were just 104,000, the fewest in more than a year and down from the previous estimate of 162,000.
Employers have added an average of 148,000 jobs in the past three months, well below the 12-month average of 184,000.
ETX Capita' market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi said: "It's unwise to say tapering is off the cards in September, but it definitely has given the Fed and the market food for thought."
Meanwhile, US oil prices closed at a two-year high of $110.53 a barrel amid fears of escalating tensions in the Middle East and hope for continued stimulus from the Fed.