Global equity indices turned south in most major markets over concerns about the strength of the economic recovery.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo was the exception, rising 3 percent to 12,362.20. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index dipped 0.1 percent to 22,337.49.
In Europe, the slide was led by the FTSE MIB in Milan.
The Italian market closed down 2.3 percent to 15,200.30, dented by the country’s political limbo: Pier Luigi Bersani has failed to form a government, and the Italian president Giorgio Napolitano is now relying on a group of ten “wise men” to cobble together reforms that will keep the country afloat until the next round of elections.
The CAC 40 in Paris sank 1.3 percent to 3,754.96; the FTSE 100 in London 1.1 percent to 6,420.28; and the DAX in Frankfurt 0.9 percent to 7,874.75.
Retail and luxury stocks were mostly down, with the day’s biggest decliners including Burberry Group, down 3.3 percent to 12.82 pounds; Debenhams, 3.4 percent to 81 pence; Geox, 4.4 percent to 2.08 euros, and Mulberry Group 2.8 percent to 9.81 pounds.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.8 percent to 14,550.35, while the S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group decreased 0.4 percent to 538.93.
American Apparel Inc. led the retail stocks that lost ground, losing 5.2 percent to $2, followed by Cache Inc., which fell 3.2 percent to $4.
Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. was one of the exceptions, rising 6.3 percent to $2.21. Abercrombie & Fitch was another, gaining 3.8 percent to $47.20.