Stocks closed down sharply Friday, having their worst day since January 3, after Wall Street was rattled by weaker-than-expected manufacturing data in the U.S. and Europe.
U.S. manufacturing activity eased to the lowest level in nearly two years in March, according to IHS Markit's flash reading. A sub-reading of manufacturing output, IHS said, fell to 52.5, well below the 53.6 point forecast and the lowest level since June 2017.
Meanwhile, manufacturing activity in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, slumped to the lowest level in more than six years, according to IHS Markit, with new orders falling to a 2012 trough.
"Germany's latest PMI reading of 44.7 was well below consensus forecast of 48 and the weakest since 2012," said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell. "Given Germany's status as Europe's biggest economy, the bleak news is aggravating existing worries over global growth. It's no surprise equity futures and bond yields are lower, reflecting worries over slower economic and earnings growth prospects."