UK and European equity markets slumped on 11 February as the previous session's rally ended abruptly, with banking and mining stocks dragging benchmarks sharply lower across the region.
London's FTSE 100 index closed down 2.39% to 5,536.97, having previously touched 5,499.51 points, the lowest level since late 2012, while the UK bank index plunged 4.4%, sinking to a seven-year low. European equities fared even worse, with Germany's Dax and France's CAC 40 tumbling 2.93% and 4.05% respectively, while the Pan European Stoxx 600 plummeted 3.67%.
Economists warned the global sell-off could extend into the final session of the week, although 12 February sees a packed economic calendar, which could provide a bit of relief to investors.
"Germany, Italy and the eurozone as a whole reveal their preliminary fourth-quarter GDP figures, while the US sees retail sales, import prices and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment number," said Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell. "The markets will be hoping that, with a bit of distraction, the week can end on a slightly more positive note."
The mood among market participants was worsened by a renewed slump in oil prices, which saw Brent crude fall 2.21% to $30.20 (£20.98, €26.61) a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate plunged 4.02% to $26.39 a barrel.
Elsewhere, with China's Shanghai Composite and Japan's Nikkei closed, Hong Kong's Hang Seng returned from the Lunar New Year Holiday with a hangover, as it tumbled 3.85%.
Among individual stocks, banking shares were under pressure, with Barclays among the top fallers, after Societe Generale warned it would fall short of its expected profit increase this year, fuelling ongoing concerns over the health of the sector.
Concerns over a global slowdown weighed heavily on the financial sector, with Aberdeen Asset Management and Prudential among the five worst performers on London's blue chip index.
"Financial stocks on both sides of the channel have come under pressure as initially Deutsche Bank and then Societe Generale have undershot expectations," said IG market analyst Alastair McCaig. "With Commerzbank due to post its figures tomorrow, things could still get worse before we find support."
Commodity stocks were under the cosh across both of London's main benchmarks, with Glencore and firmly in the red, while on the FTSE 250 there was better news for Informa, which was on the front foot after posting an increase in annual revenue and operating profit.
FTSE 100 - Top 5 risers
Randgold Resources +7.28%
Imperial Brands +1.96%
Rolls-Royce Holdings +0.38%
FTSE 100 - Top 5 fallers
Aberdeen Asset Management -7.39%
FTSE 250 - Top 5 risers
Acacia Mining +4.93%
Man Group +4.58%
Entertainment One Limited +3.45%
FTSE 250 - Top 5 fallers
AL Noor Hospitals Group -27.83%
Amec Foster Wheeler -8.25%