European financials are among the day's biggest fallers as benchmark French and German indices struggle amid intensifying geopolitical concerns.
The German Dax and French CAC40 were down by more than 2% apiece this afternoon as investors digested the prospect of possible Western military action in Syria.
Financials bore the brunt of the selling, with Germany's Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank down 4.8% and 3.6% respectively to push European indices to one-month lows.
That was followed by the S&P 500 opening down 0.8% in the US at 1,642, within touching distance of a seven-week low.
In the UK, the FTSE 100 made back some of its earlier losses to stand 0.6% lower at 6,453 by mid-afternoon.
But benchmark bond yields fell back as investors turned more cautious.
Ten-year UK gilt yields fell from 2.73% to 2.58%, with US treasury prices rising as ‘risk-off' attitudes returned.
Claim from SocGen's global markets division
Third annual Hampton-Alexander review
European Commission yields to pressure
Numbers in Adviserland
Retirement sector trends