European stock markets slumped and the euro hit a 23-month low versus the dollar Friday ahead of key US jobs data and following weak economic numbers out of China and the eurozone, traders said.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies dropped 0.64 percent to 5,287.00 points in late morning trade, Frankfurt's DAX 30 tumbled 2.06 percent to 6,135.56 points and in Paris the CAC 40 dropped 1.27 percent to 2,978.84.
Madrid's IBEX 35 index lost 0.24 percent to 6,075.00 points.
The euro struck a fresh 23-month low at $1.2312, which compared with $1.2361 late in New York on Thursday, and as markets awaited US non-payroll jobs data due Friday for a reading on the United States' economic recovery.
"Global investors will be hoping that June proves better than May, which was truly horrible," said Rebecca O'Keeffe, head of investment at online brokerage Interactive Investor.
The weak start to June came after a miserable May in which most markets gave up almost all the gains they had made since the turn of the year as the eurozone's debt crisis came back into sharp focus.
Meanwhile in Asia, "China's manufacturing numbers overnight did nothing to quell the growing concerns that it might suffer a harder landing than previously forecast," added O'Keeffe.
China on Friday said manufacturing activity grew at a much slower rate than expected in May, further confirming the world's number two economy is slowing rapidly after recent poor figures on trade, investment and industrial output.
The official purchasing managers index (PMI) fell to 50.4 from 53.3 in April, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said in a statement.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 suggests contraction. HSBC said its PMI for May stood at 48.4 compared with 49.3 in April.
The Chinese data helped to send Brent oil prices sinking under $100 a barrel for the first time in eight months.
Also on Friday, data showed eurozone unemployment stood at a record high of 11 percent, with Spain the hardest hit at 24.3 percent in April.
More than 17.4 million people were jobless in the 17-nation single currency area in April, as 110,000 more men and women joined unemployment queues, according to Eurostat data agency.
The news comes as Greece's political and economic future remains uncertain and Spain's banking sector is looking increasingly fragile, stoking fears that debt-laden Madrid could need an international bailout.
With investors still seeking refuge in safe-haven assets amid problems in Spain, the yield on 10-year German and French bonds hit new record lows on Friday.
The rate of return for investors on 10-year German Bunds on the secondary bond market fell to 1.158 percent, and the yield on French 10-year bonds fell to 2.278 percent, beating records set a day earlier.
Spain's yield meanwhile rose to 6.589 percent from 6.536 percent at the close on Thursday, bringing the spread between German and Spanish borrowing rates to 5.45 percentage points.
For a eurozone country such as Spain, an interest rate above 6.0 percent is considered dangerous territory with respect to its ability to refinance public debt.
Countries that had to pay 7.0 percent or more, including Greece, Ireland and Portugal, were forced to negotiate international bailouts.