European stock markets have taken a battering for a second day, amid fears of a US recession and the fall out from the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The losses in Europe came after sharp drops in Asian stock markets, which included a drop of almost nine per cent in Hong Kong. (Left Photo: Brokers from Sydney to Mumbai have seen investors rush to offload shares [EPA])
London's FTSE 100 index was down 5.5 per cent to 5,578.20 in mid-morning trading, while in Paris the CAC 40 fell by 6.8 per cent to 4,744.45. The value of Frankfurt's DAX index fell by more than 7.2 per cent at one point during trading.
The Russian RTS index fell by 5.34 per cent from Monday's close in early Tuesday trade, to 1892.96 points, but later reached 1,929, a drop of 3.5 per cent on the day.
The developments come a day after European exchanges suffered their biggest one-day falls since the September 11, 2001, attacks. The FTSE 100 has now lost over 13 per cent of its value in 2008. The Dow Jones index in New York has fallen by 9 per cent in the past three weeks.
"Individual investors will be looking at some of the headlines and some of the prices, and they will be surprised, if not shocked, about the level of the falls we have seen since the start of this year," Henk Potts, an investment analyst for Barclays, told Al Jazeera.
"The majoirty of people’s pensions [are] linked to the stock market. If the stock market continues to fall, it could put [pensions] under pressure," he said, while emphasising that the latest events in the stock markets would only be "a blip" on a five-year graph.
Wall Street is expected to fall when it reopens at 1430 GMT after Japanese share prices tumbled 5.65 per cent to a 28-month low on Tuesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, markets across Asia took a hammering as panic gripped investors. Tuesday's sell off was across the board as markets from Australia to Japan and India crashed into the red. In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng index ended the day down 8.7 per cent as it lost 2,061.23 points - its biggest points drop ever.
In Japan, Asia's largest market, the Nikkei index continued its slide a day after suffering heavy losses, ending Tuesday down 5.65 per cent. The fall was the Nikkei's biggest one-day loss in a decade.
In India's financial capital, Mumbai, trading was temporarily halted when the market nosedived almost 10 per cent on opening - a day after recording its sharpest one day fall ever. Reopening an hour later, India's two major stock indexes resumed their decline despite an appeal from the country's finance minister for investors to remain calm.
"I think the reality is that we do live in a global economy and while we do see some strong growth coming through in emerging markets, much of that has been driven by exports," Potts said. "If we see some developing nations start to struggle then demand for exports will struggle and that won’t be such good news for those emerging markets."
In Australia shares also tumbled, with the market losing 7.1 per cent at the end of the day, its biggest drop in nearly 20 years as brokers saw a wave of panic selling. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index has now lost more than 18 per cent this year.
Stocks in China also took a hammering as investor jitters over the economy's susceptibility to the US sub-prime mortgage crisis began to take its toll.
In Shanghai the main Shanghai Composite index ended the day down by 7.22 per cent, its lowest level in several months. Shanghai-listed shares in China's second biggest bank, the Bank of China, were suspended on Tuesday after stock exchange authorities said the bank had failed to comment on an "important event".
The exchange gave no further details, although its statement was interpreted as being related to media reports that the bank may post a 2007 loss because of write downs on billions of dollars of investments in the US sub-prime mortgage market.
Bank of China is the country's biggest owner of sub-prime mortgage securities. Zhang Gang, an analyst at Southwest Securities, told AFP: "Investor confidence was hit severely by the global slump. " People are also worried that the US credit crisis may spread into other countries."
Worries that China's banks may be facing significant losses from their exposure to the US mortgage crisis also saw Shanghai-listed shares in other mainland banks fall steeply. In Hong Kong, Bank of China shares continued to trade, falling 8.6 per cent on Tuesday morning, on top of a fall of 6.4 per cent a day earlier. Banking giant HSBC was also not immune, seeing its shares fall 8.1 per cent. (Photo: Trading in Mumbai was briefly suspended as stocks nosedived on Tuesday's open [EPA])
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong index of locally listed mainland Chinese companies, so-called H shares, suffered its sharpest drop in a decade, losing almost 12 per cent.
Among the biggest losers was Air China, which saw its stock nosedive by 19.2 per cent on Tuesday, on top of a 15 per cent plunge on Monday. Andrew Clarke, a trader at Societe Generale Securities in Hong Kong, told Reuters: "What this tells us is sub-prime is nowhere near contained.
"People have been burying their heads in the sand, and reality is just hitting. What governments have got to do is to limit the damage - they better come up with something quickly or else we'll go into a full-blown bear market."
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
Recession fears weigh on markets
The main European and Asian share indexes have fallen sharply amid fears that a US recession will lead to a global economic slowdown.
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