European markets fell sharply amid negative earnings news, along with continued uncertainties surrounding U.S.-Iraq relations and world economic growth. In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index ended with a decline of 185.40 points, or 4.75%, to 3,721.80.
In France, the CAC 40 lost 173.07 points, or 5.87%, to 2,777.45. Scor, France's biggest reinsurer, plunged after saying it plans to sell 400 million euros of stock to shareholders to fund its business.
And in Germany, the DAX Index fell 149.87 points, or 5.13%, to 2,769.03. Germany's Finance Minister Hans Eichel reportedly cut his growth forecast for Europe's largest economy to 1.5% next year from 2.5% previously.
In Asia , the markets finished lower. The Nikkei fell 147.15 points, or 1.54%, to 9383.29 amid profit-taking after sharp gains over the past two sessions on the back of speculation that the Japanese government would inject public funds into the banking system. Japan's major stock indices, however, recouped some of their losses in the last hour of trading following news that Hakuo Yanagisawa, who has been reluctant to endorse a plan to infuse public funds into banks, was sacked as financial services minister in a cabinet reshuffle.
In Hong Kong, the market lost 222.25 points, or 2.39%, to 9072.21.