The U.S. and the euro zone posted disappointing manufacturing data on Friday, as did China on Wednesday.
Markit's final manufacturing purchasing manager's index (PMI) for the euro zone read 50.6 in December, slightly below the flash estimate. The 50-point mark separates industry contraction from expansion.
The U.S. ISM manufacturing index came in below expectations at 55.5, down from 58.7 in November. Separate data out at the same time showed construction spending dropped 0.3 percent in November, versus a projected 0.3 percent gain.
The data weighed on markets, following official figures out from China on Wednesday that showed factory activity sputtering in December. U.S. stocks fell during morning trade.
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Meanwhile, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) fueled expectations of broader monetary stimulus measures on Friday. ECB President Mario Draghi said in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt that the risk of the central bank not fulfilling its mandate of preserving price stability was higher now than half a year ago, Reuters reported.
The markets took this as yet another hint that a quantitative easing program could be imminent.
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