[NEW YORK] Poor European growth data and fears that US consumer spending has stalled ahead of the Christmas season sent global shares sharply lower on Friday.
US shares lost more than one percent for the second straight session as investors piled out of a wide swathe of retail-related stocks, from department stores to online sellers Amazon and Liberty Interactive to Internet giants like Google, dependent on consumer advertising.
Earlier, Asian markets took their cue from Thursday's US selloff, with China's growth worries continuing to buffer the markets.
Losses in Europe were nearly as bad as the US, after official data showed growth in the 19-nation eurozone slowed to 0.3 per cent in the third quarter, with the economy in powerhouse Germany cooling as France returned to expansion.
Bailed-out Greece contracted by 0.5 per cent in the quarter and the economy in recovery standout Portugal slowed to a standstill as domestic demand dived.
"Slower eurozone GDP growth... will intensify already strong belief that the ECB will deliver more stimulus at its December policy meeting," said Howard Archer, chief European economist at research group IHS Global Insight, referring to the European Central Bank.
The US losses reflected deep worries that consumers were keeping their wallets tight going into the all-important November-December shopping season.
"The retail sales numbers today were disappointing," said Tom Cahill of Ventura Wealth Management.
"A good portion of the growth we're experiencing - even though it's slow growth - is due to the consumer. From this stand point, if the consumer starts to retrench, that obviously can be very concerning for growth expectations." Commodity prices also lost ground with crude falling another eight per cent, hitting the shares of large mining and oil companies.
The International Energy Agency said commercial crude stockpiles in developed nations had risen to a record-high three billion barrels.
Troubled mining giant Glencore shed three percent on the London exchange, lifting weekly losses to 20 per cent.
In Asia, Sydney-listed miner BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto gave up almost two percent while Origin was seven percent lower.
In New York, ExxonMobil was down 1.7 per cent and Chevron 1.3 per cent.
The weak European growth data sent the euro lower against the dollar - around US$1.0764 - amid expectations of more stimulus from the European Central Bank.
"It is hard now not to conclude that additional monetary easing by the ECB on December 3 is fully priced in the markets," said Derek Halpenny, European head of markets research at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.