Markets have been uneasy since Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank might pull back on its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program â¿¿ known as quantitative easing â¿¿ if U.S. economic data, especially hiring, improve.
Investors expect a reduction in the Fed's asset purchases later this year. Such stimulus has been a key driver of the rally in stock markets and other asset prices. Analysts say markets are looking ahead to next week's Fed policy meeting for more guidance on the scale and timing of any reductions.
"The markets now appear to be in panic mode over the prospect of a tapering of QE3 in the U.S., even though the Fed itself has stressed that monetary policy would remain 'highly accommodative'," said economist Julian Jessop of Capital Economics in a report.
Sentiment about China has turned pessimistic after May exports and retail sales weakened, fueling concern the recovery for the world's second-largest economy might be stalling.News reports said Eurozone finance ministers were due to meet Friday in Rome to discuss possible support for banks. The Wall Street Journal said that might include agreement on using up to 60 billion euros to rescue financial institutions. "Such a deal would likely be viewed as positive as other components of the banking union will take a long time before they are implemented in full," said Credit Agricole CIB's Kotecha. In currency markets, the euro rose to $1.3348 from $1.3345 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 94.96 yen from 94.87 yen. Benchmark oil for July delivery rose 5 cents to $96.74 after gaining 81 cents on Thursday on improved U.S. economic data.