US and European markets tumbled this afternoon amid fresh concerns over the state of the US economy.
The Dow Jones opened sharply lower Thursday after US jobless claims hit their highest level in more than three months.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke expressed concerns US public debt could hit the dollar.
He told the Senate Banking committee the nation's public deficit - projected to reach 11% of GDP by the end of the year - "could impact" interest rates and the dollar.
Rates would have to stay low for a lengthy period, he said, to counter the weak job market.
The Fed chief urged the US congress and administration to "find a solution" to the rising national deficit since it could "have widespread negative consequences".
In London, after falling steadily throughout the day, the FTSE had plummeted almost 1.5%, dropping 76.17 points to 5,266.75.
Elsewhere, the French CAC fell more than 2% to 3,639.15.
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