Many American companies are also nervous about the economic outlook overseas. Europe's financial crisis has pushed much of that region into recession and cut into U.S. exports and corporate profits.
In a rare dose of healthy news for the global economy, China's manufacturing improved in October, two business surveys showed Thursday. The world's second-largest economy may be recovering from its deepest slump since the 2008 global crisis.
Analysts expect China's growth to strengthen this quarter. But they caution that the rebound will be too weak to drive a global recovery without improvement in the United States and Europe.