Equity markets across the globe tumbled and the U.S. dollar broadly held firm on Friday as doubts grew about the pace of economic recovery and the week's major data on U.S. jobs loomed large.

European shares hit a four-week low, following steep losses in Asia and on Wall Street overnight as investors moved to the relative safely of bonds.

Markets were on edge ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls, due at 8:30 a.m. EDT, fearing more disappointing news after a report on Thursday showed U.S. manufacturing growth was slower than expected in September.

(The weak U.S. data from Thursday) is confirming doubts that improvements in underlying economies may not be supportive, said Grahame Exton, fund manager at Tilney Investment Management.

European shares <.FTEU3> fell 1.2 percent by midday trade. The index, which posted its best quarterly performance in nearly 10 years in the last quarter, was on track for a third day of losses.

The MSCI world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS> was down 0.95 percent at 278.88. It fell for a second straight day after rising 17 percent in the third quarter which ended Wednesday.

U.S. stock futures were also lower, pointing to a weaker start on Wall Street on Friday, after the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> and the S&P 500 <.SPX> suffered their worst one-day fall in three months the previous day.

Tokyo's Nikkei average hit a two-month closing low on Friday, down 2.5 percent <.N225>. It slid 5.2 percent on the week for its biggest weekly drop in about three months.

Trade across Asia was quieter than usual with markets in China, India and South Korea closed for public holidays.


Euro zone government bond prices rose, pushing longer-dated yields to five-month lows. U.S. Treasuries also gained, with the yield on benchmark 10-year notes falling to 3.16 percent, their lowest in more than four months and down 2 basis points from late U.S. trade.

The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, held steady above 77 <.DXY>.

For today, it's all about being square, not being too aggressive on positioning, said Roberto Mialich, FX strategist at Unicredit in Milan, adding that the dollar will perversely benefit from falling U.S. stocks and weak jobs data.

But the currency market also remained wary on expectations the Group of Seven finance chiefs, who meet in Istanbul this weekend, would repeat its call to rebalance the world economy -- a process which will likely involve a weaker dollar.

Economists polled by Reuters estimate the U.S. economy shed 180,000 jobs in September, fewer than the 216,000 jobs lost in August, while unemployment rose to 9.8 percent in September from 9.7 percent in August.

Goldman Sachs called for even bigger job losses on Thursday, saying it now sees non-farm payrolls falling 250,000 from its previous estimate of 200,000 after recent weak data.

A figure out of line with forecasts either way is likely to have dramatic market impact.

U.S. crude oil futures fell more than one percent below $70 a barrel as worries over the West's talks with Iran about the OPEC member's nuclear plans eased.

Gold was steady, hovering just under $1,000 an ounce.

(Additional reporting by Simon Falush and Jamie McGeever in London, editing by Mike Peacock/Victoria Main)