Global shares rout continues in Europe, Asia
The global selloff in equities sparked by the US credit downgrade and renewed recession fears has continued, though some Asian markets have clawed back losses.
In Europe, financial markets plunged deeper as investors focused on the US Federal Reserve's policy meeting to be held later in the day.
In early trading, London's FTSE 100 index was down 4.8%, the CAC 40 in Paris was down 3.8% and the DAX in Frankfurt had lost 7%; all had risen soon after the open.
A torrid Asia session saw the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo end down 1.7% at 8944.48 in contrast to Australia's rebound.
Korea's Kospi ended down 3.6% at 1801.35 after trading off as much as 9.9%, while Taiwan's Taiex slid 0.8% to 7493.12.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 5.7% to 19,330.70, while the Shanghai Composite Index ended little changed at 2526.07.
Both indexes have lost 20% or more from their 52-week highs recorded in November.
Investors in Europe and North America are now looking to the Fed's Open Market Committee meeting for any guidance or signals on the possibility of a further monetary stimulus to help stem the current global growth confidence crisis.
Currencies: Aussie lifts off lows, euro rises
The Australian dollar climbed off a four-month low of $0.9927 to $US1.0167 at 0810 and leading some buying of risk currencies in Europe.
The euro was at $US1.4233, well above the Asian low of $US1.4152.