Concerns over the outlook for the global economy have caused stocks to slump across the world.
By late afternoon, the FTSE 100 was down by over 2%, while the Dax lost 1.5% and the Cac dropped 1.9%.
Inflation, high oil prices and continuing problems in the banking sector have led to a global sell-off of shares.
European markets suffered, while in New York the Dow Jones lost almost 100 points on opening before making a slight recovery.
Bank and airline stock were particularly badly hit as sub-prime losses continued to affect the financial sector, while fears of a recession and high fuel costs hurt airlines.
Stock markets have been in decline since late May and, despite minor recoveries, have continued to fall.
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