US and European stock markets fell on Friday as investors digested mixed economic data, uncertainty over monetary policy and concerns about the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

London's FTSE 100, the Frankfurt DAX 30 and the Paris CAC 40 all closed lower after rising earlier in the day, while Wall Street finished with a solid loss to send major indices into the red for the second straight week.

Asian markets, however, headed into the weekend on an upbeat note.

"September appears to be living up to its sluggish reputation," said analysts at Charles Schwab brokerage.

US "markets have appeared to lack conviction near record highs amid uncertainties regarding the Delta variant, global monetary policy tightening timing, fiscal stimulus and persistent supply chain challenges," they said in a note.

US data released in recent days showed moderating consumer inflation and better-than-expected retail sales in the world's leading economy.

Investors have weighed those reports against the ongoing health and supply chain concerns, together with uncertainty over an expected Federal Reserve move to soon taper stimulus spending.

Investors are turning their attention to next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting.

The US central bank's chief Jerome Powell has indicated that it will start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year, but he has remained vague about the timing. Some analysts consider an announcement more likely at a future meeting.

The Bank of England also meets next week with annual UK inflation at its highest level in more than nine years.

Eyes are also on the progress of US President Joe Biden's multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure and social spending plans, which are inching through Congress.

At the same time, lawmakers have yet to agree on raising the debt ceiling, a recurring problem that would cause a catastrophic US default if not addressed.

That all comes against the backdrop of the highly transmissible Delta Covid mutation, which has sent infections around the world surging and forced several countries to reimpose lockdowns and other containment measures.

Among them is China, where a new outbreak has spooked traders just weeks after officials appeared to have brought another under control in the world's second-biggest economy.

And while September is considered by analysts to be the weakest month for investing, the past week has been particularly bad for Hong Kong, where tech firms fell on more regulatory oversight and Macau-based casinos were strafed by plans for a government crackdown.

Investors in Tokyo are keeping an eye on the ruling party's leadership election, with hopes the winner will push through a big stimulus package Investors in Tokyo are keeping an eye on the ruling party's leadership election, with hopes the winner will push through a big stimulus package Photo: AFP / Charly TRIBALLEAU

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 34,584.88 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.9 percent at 4,432.99 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.9 percent at 15,043.97 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.9 percent at 6,963.64 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.0 percent at 15,490.17 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.8 percent at 6,570.19 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.9 percent at 4,130.84 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.6 percent at 30,500.05 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.0 percent at 24,920.76 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,613.97 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1729 from $1.1767 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3731 from $1.3795

Euro/pound: UP at 85.40 pence from 85.30 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.97 yen from 109.73 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.4 percent at $75.34 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.9 percent at $71.97 per barrel