Stocks recovered from their lows but still finished slightly lower Friday, weighed by a batch of disappointing economic reports and a day after the Dow and S&P 500 posted record highs.
Prices for U.S. Treasurys rallied on Friday as data showing a surprise decline in consumer spending in March darkened investors' view on the U.S. economy.
Gold settled close to $1,500 per ounce, a drop of more than 20 percent from its record 2011 highs, putting it in bear market territory for the first time after 12 years of gains.
Brent crude oil sank to an eight-month low on Friday, as the outlook for global oil demand growth dimmed, although an improvement in U.S. jobs data put a floor under prices.
European shares closed down on Friday after the release of retail sales data in the U.S. which showed a fall in March consumer spending.
The dollar declined from a four-year peak against the yen Friday after a fall in U.S. retail sales reinforced expectations the Fed will keep its monetary policy loose.
Japanese stock markets took a breather on Friday from this week's rally, while most other Asian indices closed lower.
U.S. Treasurys prices rose on Thursday as a three-day rise in yields lured investors to buy government debt on the open market and a $13 billion auction of 30-year bonds.
Gold bounced back from a one-week low hit in earlier trade to end at $1,564 per ounce, as a weak dollar prompted buyers to pick up bargains, although analysts expect the rebound will be short-lived.
Brent crude oil fell below $106 per barrel, after analysts cut forecasts for global oil demand growth and U.S. crude oil stocks hit their highest level in more than two decades.
The dollar rose to another four-year high against the yen on Thursday, closing in on the key 100 yen level.
Japan's Nikkei led the rally in Asian stocks on Thursday on the yen's weakness as positive bank lending data out of China added to overall investor optimism.
Stocks soared broadly across the board to finish near session highs Wednesday, propelling the Dow and S&P 500 to new record levels, boosted by strong gains in techs.
As first-quarter earnings season kicks off, negative company warnings have outpaced positive revisions nearly five-to-one.
U.S. Treasurys prices slumped on Wednesday after minutes from the Federal Reserve's March policy meeting fueled fears the U.S. central bank might slow or end its bond purchases by year-end.
The world's biggest bond fund manager Bill Gross has had a change of heart on Treasurys, raising allocations to U.S.government bonds.
European shares extended gains to close sharply higher on Wednesday, with investor sentiment boosted by U.S. stocks reaching record highs and a successful Italian bond auction.
It is too soon for the Federal Reserve to consider tapering or halting its asset purchases, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said on Wednesday.
Cyprus plans to sell 400 million euros' worth of reserves to finance part of its bailout, according to European Commission documents. The move marks the biggest euro zone bullion sale in four years.
Goldman Sachs downgraded its 2013 price target for gold and advised investors to short the precious metal, in a commodities report out on Wednesday.
European shares were flat on Friday as talks over the "fiscal cliff" stalled.
European shares closed lower on Wednesday for a third consecutive session, with resurging worries about the global economic outlook undermining investor sentiment.
Standard & Poor's decision to cut Spain's credit rating to one notch above junk status is weighing on markets.