In afternoon trading, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index fell 1.8%
New York - AFP
European and US shares were hit by a broad sell-off Thursday, driven by a grim Rolls-Royce profit warning and another dump in crude prices that hit oil companies.
Disappointing earnings underpinned the gloomy mood on both sides of the Atlantic, amid worries that global growth is not turning around.
Charlie Bilello of Pension Partners said the signs of weakness were in the fall in prices of commodities such as oil and copper.
"That's putting pressure on the energy sector, materials sector, industrials -- anything related to global growth," he said.
Rolls-Royce, one of Britain's top industrial groups, slumped 19.6 percent after delivering its fourth profits warning in a year, as a result of weak demand in its aerospace and marine markets.
"While 2015 remains broadly as expected, the outlook for 2016 is very challenging," chief executive Warren East declared.
That helped the FTSE-100 index to shed 1.9 percent over the session.
"A cavalcade of concerns left the European indices in a uniform shade of red this morning, including a truly nightmarish performance from Rolls-Royce," said analyst Connor Campbell at traders Spreadex.
Energy shares suffered in both Europe and the US. In Frankfurt, German giant RW tanked 9.6 percent after saying 2015 profits would "only just" meet the company's forecast range, and rival E.ON sank 3.2 percent.
In Madrid, Repsol shares dived 7.3 percent after the Spanish oil giant revealed that it swung into the red in the third quarter.
On Wall Street, ExxonMobil lost 2.7 percent and Chevron shed 2.5 percent as crude prices dropped.
- Fed rate talk changes little -
Bilello said markets are also wary of the possibility of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates next month.
Several Fed officials, including Chair Janet Yellen, spoke in public Thursday, but their message mostly reiterated the last Fed policy statement -- that December was possible for a rate hike, as long as it is merited by the economic data.
"The question is will they hike if the market continues to go down like that," said Bilello, speaking on Thursday's losses. "The answer is 'no.'"
Indeed, the International Monetary Fund came down on the side of the Fed waiting, and for more stimulus from other major central banks, in a report on global economic conditions for the G-20 meeting in Turkey next week.
"Accommodative monetary policies remain essential in many advanced economies," the IMF said.
The Fed's decision "should remain data-dependent, with the first increase in the federal funds rate waiting until continued strength in the labor market is accompanied by firm signs of inflation rising steadily toward the Federal Reserve's two percent medium-term inflation objective," the IMF said.
The Bank of Japan, fighting weaker growth, "should stand ready for further easing," while the European Central Bank, itself mulling further growth stimulus efforts in the coming months, should make clear a strong commitment to its asset purchase program.
Amid such talk, the dollar slipped against the euro, back above the $1.08 line, and was lower against the yen and pound as well.
Key figures at 2200 GMT
New York - Dow: DOWN 1.4 percent at 17,448.07 (close)
New York - S&P 500: DOWN 1.4 percent at 2,045.97 (close)
New York - Nasdaq DOWN 1.2 percent at 5,005.08 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.8 percent at 6,178.68 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.1 percent at 10,782.63 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 1.9 percent at 4,856.65 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.8 percent at 3,387.70 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.03 percent 19,697.77 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP to $1.0814 from $1.0741 in late US trade Wednesday