Investors have been avoiding riskier assets amid growing concerns about slackening growth in the US economy.
Globally, equities were lower, with Europe giving up early gains.
Bleak data from the US, with jobless claims at a nine-month high and the first contraction in a year in a volatile regional manufacturing index, has made the markets more jittery.
"The latest data out of the US sparked a flight to quality by reviving fears of a double-dip recession, with investors seeking refuge into safer government debt," Louis Capital analyst Bertrand Michaud said.
Like others, he suggested markets would be waiting for the end of the northern hemisphere's summer to get a clearer picture on where the world's economy and markets were heading.
World stocks were down more than half a per cent on the day, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.5 per cent.