Global stock markets took a battering yesterday as Greece struggled to seal a €130bn (£108.5bn) bailout and investors took fright at more signs of faltering growth among the world's fastest-growing economies.
The rout sent London's FTSE 100 plunging 1.9 per cent to 5765.8 – its biggest one-day fall for more than two months – in a turbulent session for equity markets. Shares in France, Germany and Spain took even bigger punishment with falls of more than 3 per cent as jitters over global growth gripped dealing rooms and put Wall Street on the back foot.
London's blue-chip benchmark was in sight of the 6,000 mark less than two weeks ago, but mining and resource stocks were among the worst casualties amid mounting fears over fragile global demand.
Traders took fright as Brazilian growth slowed sharply from 7.5 per cent to 2.7 per cent last year.
The disappointment came just a day after China, the world's second-biggest economy, scaled back its own growth targets. Will Hedden, a sales trader who works for IG Index, said shares had been sent down by an "avalanche of pent-up selling pressure".
Mr Hedden warned: "With markets having spent so long near their post-crisis highs, it feels this time as if the leg downward has begun in earnest."
The sell-off – which will hit the pension pots of millions of people – came amid warnings from international bankers that the eurozone faces a disastrous €1 trillion (£833bn) blow if Greece is allowed to slide into a chaotic default.
The leaked doomsday scenario emerged from the Institute of International Finance (IIF) – the body representing the banks and hedge-fund holders of Greek debt who have agreed to take losses and want to persuade their peers to follow suit.