Amazon plans to cut more than 18,000 jobs, the largest number in the firm's history, as it battles to save costs.

The online giant, which employs 1.5 million people globally, did not say which countries the job cuts would hit, but said they would include Europe.

Most of the job losses will come from its consumer retail business and its human resources division.

Boss Andy Jassy cited the "uncertain economy" for the cuts, saying it had "hired rapidly over several years."

"We don't take these decisions lightly or underestimate how much they might affect the lives of those who are impacted," he said in a memo to staff.

He said the announcement had been brought forward due to one of the firm's employees leaking the cuts externally.

"Companies that last a long time go through different phases. They're not in heavy people expansion mode every year," he added.