After losses in much of Asia, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.2% to 7,420, though Germany's DAX eked out a 0.1% gain to 12,300. The CAC40 in Paris was roughly flat at 5,560.
Wall Street looked set for a weak open, with the future contract for the Dow down 0.1% and that for the S&P 500 off less than 0.1%.
Corporate news has been mixed, with carmaker Daimler reporting a drop in earnings for the first quarter and Deutsche Bank expecting weaker revenues. Uber priced the shares it aims to sell in a lower range after the IPOs of rival tech companies like Lyft underwhelmed expectations.
In the U.S., earnings reporting season is about a third of the way in, and results have been mixed. Amazon's profits have jumped but Intel cut its forecasts.
Analysts are forecasting a drop of 2.8% in earnings for S&P 500 companies this time around, not as bad as the 4% decline they were expecting a few weeks ago.
Investors will look to U.S. growth figures as well. Economists have been upgrading their estimates, with many forecasting that GDP expanded at an annual rate of close to 3% in the first three months of the year. That would be up a full percentage point from previous estimates.
In Asian trading, concern that China may temper its economic stimulus pulled benchmarks lower for a second straight day. The Shanghai Composite index fell 1.2% to 3,086.40 while Japan's Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.2% to 22,258.73. South Korea's Kospi declined 0.5% to 2,179.31. Australia's S&P ASX 200 edged 0.1% higher to 6,385.60, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.2% to 29,605.01.
India's Sensex jumped 0.9% to 39,066.97. Shares fell in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand but rose in Jakarta.
China-U.S. trade talks are again on the agenda, for next week in Beijing, with further talks in Washington slated for May 8.
President Donald Trump has said his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, might be visiting the White House soon, but the timing remained unclear. Progress on a deal resolving a conflict over Beijing's technology policies that has involved billions of dollars in tariffs being imposed on each other's products would reassure investors who have been rattled by the uncertainty.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gave up $1.21 to $64.00 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 68 cents to $65.21 per barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.60 to $72.75 per barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar was trading at 111.77 Japanese yen, up from 111.63 yen on Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1136 from $1.1333.
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