The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet.

New York - US stocks Friday opened lower as a wave of selling pressure continued following Thursday's weak report on Chinese manufacturing activity.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 99.64 points (0.62 percent) to 16,097.71.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 11.65 (0.64 percent) to 1,816.81, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 22.92 (0.54 percent) to 4,195.95.

The sell-off followed steep declines Thursday after a report said Chinese manufacturing activity in January contracted for the first time in six months.

European stock markets were also down sharply Friday following the report, which raised concerns about the world's second-biggest economy and one of its most important growth markets.

Analysts also have attributed the Wall Street retreat to disappointment that US corporate earnings have not been better.

“Uncertainty has gripped the market, and when uncertainty does that, there is a tendency to sell first and ask questions later, particularly when the market is coming off a quarter in which it gained 10 percent,” said analyst Patrick O'Hare. - Sapa-AFP