Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange

Europe used to catch a cold when the US sneezed.

Now everyone's sick.

April marked a grim reminder of the credit crisis with the sharpest revision of European economic activity from first "flash" to final report in nearly four years.

Markit's composite purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the region came in at a positively ill 46.9, a full point from the first estimate and the lowest reading since October and the biggest revision since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

In the meantime, Spain's woes deepened too, with 71,000 more registered jobless added to an already anaemic unemployment rate of 24 percent in March.

That was the largest monthly increased in at least three years and sat uncomfortably next to data showing a 4 point slump in service sector activity in Europe's fourth-largest economy. The collective figures offer no support to the government's claim that they can exit recession next year and deliver deficit reduction targets that come anywhere close to EU-mandated targets.

If that wasn't enough for exhausted investors to deal with after a relentless week of earnings and economic data, they still had navigate Friday's US employment report before heading out for a much needed three-day weekend. Unfortunately, little respite followed. Job creation in the world's biggest economy slowed markedly, with only 115,000 new positions created, the fewest in six months.

Meanwhile, more than half a million Americans simply gave up looking and exited the workforce altogether.

That trimmed the official unemployment rate a sliver, to 8.1 percent, but reminded everyone that US labor force participation hasn't been this low since 1981. In fact, the rate has been stuck north of 8 percent more than three years, the longest stretch since at least 1948.

The market reaction was fairly straightforward: equities sagged, bond prices soared and the single currency shrugged. The broadest measure of European blue-chip share performance, the FTSE Eurofirst 300, fell more than 1.5 percent by 1424 GMT, extending the five day decline to 2.3 percent and taking the index to a January 16 low.

German Bund futures for June delivery touched an all-time high 141.95 and UK Gilt prices rose, pushing the yield to a one-month low of 2 percent after the US jobs report as investors scrambled for cover from risky investments.

The desire to pare back risk is particularly acute given the two impending weekend election results that could have potentially game-changing impacts on broader Eurozone economy.

France's Social Party leader Francois Hollande looks set to topple incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's run-off, igniting anew investor concerns over its ability - or indeed desire - to continue with austerity measures aimed at reversing a three decades of consecutive budget deficits. M. Hollande has also made much of his pledge to re-visit, if not renegotiate, the European Fiscal Treaty, which he claims is choking off growth around the region.

Greece will also go to the polls this weekend, where New Democracy Party leader Antonis Samaras leads a crowded cluster of rivals seeking to form a new government after the ouster of George Papandreou's Pasok Party. Samaras has famously rejected the EU's demand for deep spending cuts as a condition to financial assistance and has called for more "pro-growth" policies from Frankfurt and Brussels.

And just to be sure that there were no misunderstandings with respect to what's at stake, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Friday that Greece would need to "bear the consequences" of electing a new government that wasn't singing from the same austerity hymn sheet, adding rather menacingly that EU membership was "voluntary".

It's been a tough week across the board: China's putting the brakes on its growth in order to ease a domestic property boom, Australia's cutting rates in anticipation of a China-led slowdown and Canada said its economy shrank by 0.2 percent in February. Borrowing costs for Spain and Italy are rising by the day and Europe is on course to slip back into recession before the first ball is served at Wimbledon this summer.

If investors have any particularly effectively cold remedies, they should seriously consider taking a bit of medicine to protect them from the sneezing.