Overnight, Fed chair Janet Yellen said in a testimony before Congress that recent economic data back the central bank's expectations of an improved job market. The U.S. non-farm payrolls number for November is due later today. Yellen added the bank will proceed with caution in raising interest rates from near zero and that Fed funds rates would remain accommodative after the initial increase.
Elsewhere, ECB president Mario Draghi announced monetary policy measures that fell short of market expectations. The central bank cut deposit rate by 10 basis points to negative 0.3 percent and said its asset purchase program will also be extended until at least March 2017 and broadened in scope.
Anatoli Annenkov, senior European economist at Societe Generale said in a note "While theories of a pushback from other Governing Council members to the Executive Board's recent dovish messages will flourish, it may simply reflect the conclusions the tasked ECB committees arrived at: that the recovery continues, that monetary policy is effective and that the new measures are judged enough."
U.S. markets saw steep losses overnight with the down 252 points or 1.42 percent at 17,478; the S&P 500 was down 30 points or 1.44 percent at 2,049. The was down 86 points or 1.7 percent at 5,038.
The closed down 59 points or 1.66 percent at 3,525 as investors remained cautious.
Earlier, reports that China will launch circuit breakers for major stock indexes in the country starting in 2016 to stabilize the market during periods of volatility failed to lift sentiment.
Chinese finance stocks finished in the red, with brokerages seeing losses between 2.2 and 3.6 percent.
Major banks were also down between 1.2 and 4 percent, with shares in China Construction Bank down 3.9 percent.
Overall sentiment in China's economy remain cautious. Bank of America Merill Lynch said in a recent note that data from November will continue to be mixed and suggest risks for growth. The note said, "Industrial production (IP) and fixed asset investment (FAI) growth could still be sluggish due to the lack of demand pick up amidst poor weather in the month, while retail sales growth data will likely demonstrate the relative resilience in consumption."
Already, China's Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a measure of manufacturing activity, fell below expectations.
The sell-off contagion from overnight spread to Asia, pushing the Japanese and South Korean markets firmly in the red.
Japan's hit a three-week low, down 435 points or 2.2 percent at 19,505 and trading mostly in the red across the board.
The Nikkei reported the trio are considering an integration of their PC operations which would give them upwards of 30 percent of the Japanese marketshare, surpassing market leader NEC Lenovo Japan. It would also make them a notable global competitor.
Shares in Sony were down in morning trade by 2.4 percent, Toshiba saw losses of 1 percent, while Fujitsu was up by 2.33 percent.
In the South Korean market, the Kospi continued its losing run this week and closed 20 points or 1 percent lower at 1,974, its worst performance in over three weeks.
Australia's stocks closed at a three-week low on the final trading day of the week. The main ASX 200 index was down 81 points or 1.54 percent at 5,147.
Banking stocks were firmly in negative territory, down between 1.5 and 2.52 percent; shares in ANZ were down 2.52 percent.
Shares in Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, two of Australia's biggest miners, were down 2.72 and 1.48 percent. Overnight both stocks saw a big sell off in the London stock market on the back of the ECB decision.
Gold stocks ended in mostly positive territory after further indication of a Fed rate hike from Yellen sent the precious metal soaring. In Asian trade, the was flat $1,061 an ounce.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics also released the retail sales numbers for October, which saw 0.5 percent in turnover on-month, in line with expectations. Retail shares traded mixed with shares in Myer, an upmarket department store chain, up 2.6 percent.