"The overall trend is definitely weakening," said Benjamin Lau, chief investment officer of Apriem Advisors. "You're seeing it in some of the earnings."
"We're seeing more anecdotal evidence that the global economy is weakening from the bottom end to the top end," Lau said.
The weak Chinese economic data come as the U.S. and China engage in a trade spat that has been going on for most of the year. The two countries have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other's goods as the U.S. seeks a better trade deal with China.
Comments from White House trade advisor Peter Navarro soured optimism about a possible deal between the two countries. "If there is a deal — if and when there is a deal, it will be on President Donald J. Trump's terms. Not Wall Street's terms," he said. Navarro's comments come ahead of a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming G-20 summit.
These sharp losses have rekindled worries about a possible slowdown in the global economy, which come as the Federal Reserve looks to further tighten monetary policy. The Fed on Thursday decided to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged, as was expected, but comments by the U.S. central bank suggested it was on course to continue hiking rates.
Although a statement released by the institution noted a moderation in business investment, it said the bank still expects "further gradual increases" in the prime lending rate. Traders had been on edge last month due to concerns over the Fed's rate hiking path.
But equities still recorded strong gains for the week, following a big post-midterm elections rally. The S&P 500 and Dow gained 2.8 percent and 2.1 percent for the week, respectively. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, rose 0.7 percent. This week's gains were the biggest for the Dow since the week of March 9, when it rose 3.25 percent.
The U.S. midterm elections ended with the Democrats taking control of the House and the GOP maintaining a majority in the Senate. This result was widely expected by pollsters and election experts. Under this government make-up, meaning a split Congress and a Republican president, the S&P 500 has averaged a 12 percent gain since 1928, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
"We've got this 'yes, but' scenario, meaning things are good right now but a lot can still happen," said Matt Lloyd, chief investment strategist at Advisors Asset Management. "There's still some turmoil and some volatility keeping investors on the sidelines."
On the earnings front, Yelp shares plunged more than 26 percent after releasing its latest quarterly results. Dow-member Disney, meanwhile, rose 1.7 percent on the back of better-than-expected results.
contributed to this report.