Mining and metals stocks are taking it on the chin after Chinese manufacturing data dashed hopes of rapid growth in the world's largest consumer of metals.
Manufacturing in China contracted for the 11th month in a row in September, according to the HSBC purchasing managers' index. It hit a nine-month low in August.
The index, which provides the first glimpse of September's conditions for Chinese industry, pointed to a month in which a slide was halted but not reversed: This month's reading extends the longest period that the PMI has been below 50 - the value that separates contraction from expansion - since HSBC began compiling the survey in 2004.
In Europe, resources shares dropped 1.7 per cent. Broader stock markets also fell across Asia and Europe.
Euro zone data for September confirmed business conditions remained weak, with activity in the service sector shrinking at its fastest pace since July 2009. The composite PMI, which combines data from the manufacturing and services surveys, fell to 45.9 from 46.3 in August, its lowest since June 2009.
Euro zone banks dropped 1.7 per cent, extending their retreat from five-month highs hit last week, as Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy continued to hold back from applying for a bailout that would allow the European Central Bank to intervene in the debt market to tame Spain's high borrowing costs.
Spain passed its latest confidence test by selling 4.8 billion euros of mid and longer-term bonds.
German government bonds, favoured by the risk-averse, remained in demand, however. Bund futures were up 30 ticks to 140.00, adding to the 150 tick rebound they have seen this week, having started at a 5-1/2 month low.
Here's the rundown of what else you need to know as the investing day gets underway.
Futures: Dow -0.2 per cent, S&P 500 -0.3 per cent, Nasdaq -0.2 per cent
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index -1.2 per cent
Shanghai Composite -2.1 per cent
Japan's Nikkei -1.57 per cent
London's FTSE 100 -0.62 per cent
France's CAC 40 -0.60 per cent
Germany's DAX index -0.42 per cent
WTI (Nymex Nov) -0.47 per cent at $91.55 (U.S.) a barrel
Gold (Comex Dec) -0.51 per cent at $1,762.60 (U.S.) an ounce
Copper (Comex Dec) -1.80 per cent at $3.75 (U.S.) a pound
Canadian dollar unchanged at at 1.026 (U.S.)
STOCKS AND ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:
(0830 a.m. ET) U.S. releases jobless claims for the week ended Sept. 15. Economists expect claims to fall to 373,000 from 382,000 the previous week.
(1000 a.m. ET) U.S. releases Philadelphia Fed Survey for September. The consensus forecast is for an improvement to minus 4.0 from August's minus 7.1. A minus reading implies monthly contraction.
Earnings include ConAgra Foods Inc., Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. and Oracle Corp.
THIS MORNING'S TOP READS ON THE WEB:
How many iPhones Apple must sell to keep the Street happy.
Investors refine bets on the crude price gap between Brent and WTI.
S&P 1500 stocks with the highest short interest.
There's been a technical breakdown in the corn market.
What makes something an (alternative) asset class, anyway?
An amazing interactive that shows the impact on Herbalife stock when David Einhorn spoke with company management during an earnings conference call.
The Harvard $32-billion (U.S.) endowment is turning to forests and farms to boost returns.