North American stocks opened with triple-digit losses after data showed that the United States added no jobs in August.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 200 points, or 1.8 per cent, within minutes of opening. The S&P/TSX Composite slid 130 points, or 1.7 per cent. The S&P 500 lost 20 points, or 1.7 per cent.
Gold rose to $1,878.10 (U.S.) an ounce, gaining 2.7 per cent.
The 30-year U.S. bond, the longest government debt issue, last traded up 2-15/32 for a yield of 3.37 per cent, down 13 basis points from late Thursday. Traders were betting the dismal payrolls report would encourage the Federal Reserve to buy more longer-dated bonds to help the U.S. economy.
Here are some key details of the Labour Department's report, courtesy of Reuters:
* Adding to the bad news of zero jobs created in August, the payrolls count for June and July was revised to show 58,000 fewer jobs added than previously reported.
* Government payrolls dropped 17,000 in August, despite the end of a government shutdown in Minnesota that saw thousands of state workers return to their jobs.
* The number of the unemployed out of work for 27 weeks or more fell by 151,000. That should provide a silver lining to the data for Fed chief Ben Bernanke, who said last Friday that he was worried about long-term unemployment because it could do lasting damage on the economy.
* In general, the survey of households from which the jobless rate is derived provided another bright spot. The size of the workforce grew, but so did employment by this measure. However, economists focus on the payrolls survey, which has a much larger sample size.
* Only 58.2 per cent of the total population had a job, though the number was up from 58.1 per cent in July. Still, the reading was close to levels last seen in the early 1980s when fewer women worked.
* Temporary help -- often viewed a harbinger of permanent hiring -- increased by 4,700.
* The length of the average work week dipped, while the aggregate weekly hours index -- a measure of the total work effort -- dropped 0.2 per cent from a month earlier.