Global stocks slide as momentum fades; volatility spikes

Why markets could be heading for trouble

Stock markets across the globe followed Wall Street's lead on Friday, with investors fleeing to so-called "safe havens" and dumping riskier assets.

The Nikkei 225 finished its worst trading week since March 2011 as stocks slipped 2.38 percent on Friday, dropping below 14,000 points for the first time since October. In Europe, the German DAX sank 1.4 percent by mid-morning with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 losing 1.2 percent.

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U.S. stocks fell on Friday, extending losses after the prior day's rout, as JPMorgan Chase posted disappointing earnings. JPMorgan led declines on the S&P 500 after the bank posted first-quarter earnings below expectations

"The capital markets are confused and are confusing," commodities investor Dennis Gartman said in a research note on Friday morning. He added that "safety" has become the dominant investment theme as the "music in the capital markets seems to be ending for a while."

The selloff began Thursday afternoon in the U.S. with momentum stocks suddenly sinking after several weeks of volatility. Momentum stocks are fast-rising stocks which can unexpectedly reverse when investors fear they have overshot and a bubble is brewing. High-flying technology and biotech shares led the declines as the Nasdaq Composite posted its worst session in more than two years.

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And it was the same story in Asia and Europe with big name technology companies bearing the brunt of the selling. Chip maker ARM Holdings lost 4.7 percent, Logitech sank 3.9 percent, Sage Group fell 2.3 percent and Software AG slipped 2.3 percent. In Japan, Softbank crumbled 4 percent, Rakuten eased over 2 percent and Panasonic lost 1.5 percent.

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"Momentum stocks around the world have been getting crushed. It's already a deep bear market," John Vail, the chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management told CNBC Friday.

Safe havens saw some buying with spot gold continuing its recent rise. The precious metal closed at $1.318 per ounce on Thursday evening. The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury stabilized at 2.6410 percent after seeing a steady decline in the previous session.

In the foreign exchange markets, the rose to a three-week high against the greenback at $101.3 before losing some ground. The , which is often seen as a proxy for optimism over the global economy, fell almost half a percent overnight. The dollar index stood at 79.390, which, if sustained, would be the biggest weekly fall in nine months, according to Reuters.

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Chris Weston, trader at spread better IG Markets said in a morning note on Friday that these are tough markets to trade. "On one hand you have volatility in the forex markets at a multi-year low, with commodity markets trading as a derivative of the U.S. dollar," he said.

"On the other, developed market equities are up big one day, even closing on their highs and then down heavily the next."