By Min Zeng
Fears about the pace of global growth hit financial markets hard Tuesday as U.K. stocks hit a 2010 low and Chinese shares led an Asian tumble.
Markets were sharply weaker in early trade and got an additional knock from a dismal reading of U.S. consumer confidence.
They continued down in Asia early Wednesday, with exporters taking a beating in Tokyo on the yen's strength. Shanghai fell another 1.5%, with Japan falling 2.2% to hit its lowest level this year, Australia declining 1.8%, South Korea dipping 1.4% and New Zealand shedding 1.1%.
In Europe on Tuesday, investors also were worried that the expiration of the ECB's €442 billion ($542 billion) one-year funding program on Thursday might cause a liquidity shortfall in the financial system, sending a jolt through the banking sector. Crédit Agricole /zigman2/quotes/200767526/composite ACA -0.73% lost 7.9% and Intesa Sanpaolo fell 6.9% as the pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended down 3% at 243.82.
In LONDON , the FTSE 100 index slid below 5000 for the second time this year, falling 3.1% to a 2010 low of 4914.22.
In PARIS , the CAC-40 index lost 4% to 3432.99.
In FRANKFURT , Germany's DAX index fell 3.3% to 5952.03.
Among basic-resources stocks, closely tied to global growth, ArcelorMittal /zigman2/quotes/202790215/composite MT +0.26% fell 6.3% and Rio Tinto dropped 6.4%.
In SHANGHAI , China's Shanghai Composite fell 4.3% to 2427.05, its lowest close since April 2009, on concerns the mainland economy could slow in coming months.
Property, airline and metal stocks were big losers. Gemdale slumped 9.9% and Poly Real Estate Group /zigman2/quotes/201864015/delayed CN:600048 -3.40% dropped 7.1%, Jiangxi Copper tumbled 7% and Hainan Airlines /zigman2/quotes/203177958/delayed CN:600221 -2.91% slid 8.8%.
In TOKYO , Nikkei Stock Average shed 1.3% to 9570.67, hurt by a sharp rise in the yen, which weighed on exporters.
Casio Computer /zigman2/quotes/202492162/delayed JP:6952 -1.33% fell 3.8%, Fanuc /zigman2/quotes/202054799/delayed JP:6954 +0.61% was off 2.2% and Isuzu Motors /zigman2/quotes/202637468/delayed JP:7202 -0.09% slipped 2.5%.
A few other exporters with high exposure to the euro zone outperformed the Tokyo market, supported by hopes that earnings will be better than previously expected. Sony /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE -0.40% rose 0.2% and Nikon /zigman2/quotes/203281219/delayed JP:7731 +0.74% fell 0.3%.
Elswhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 2.3% to 20248.90, South Korea's Kospi declined 1.4% to 1707.76, India's Sensex fell 1.4% to 17534.09, and Singapore's Straits Times Index slid 1.4% to 2830.34. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.9% to 4345.67.