Europe's main stock markets dived on Thursday, joining a global sell-off after heavy losses in Asia and on Wall Street, as sliding commodity prices dented the resources sector, dealers said.
Sentiment was further rattled after China announced it would raise its bank reserve requirement ratio, stoking concerns about slower economic growth in the Asian powerhouse.
In midday deals, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index sank 1.13 % to 5,908.34 points. Frankfurt's DAX 30 dipped 1.51 percent to 7,382.13 points and in Paris the CAC 40 index shed 1.38 % to 4,002.07.
The Stoxx 50 index of leading eurozone companies lost 1.39 % to 2,901.40 points.
"With commodities having all but given up their recent gains, natural resource stocks are leading the market lower today," said ETX trader Manoj Ladwa in London.
"Traders will be keeping a very close eye on the raft of economic data from the United States out later today," added Ladwa. Upcoming data at 1230 GMT includes US retail sales and weekly jobless figures.
Markets also took another battering over persistent concerns over the eurozone debt crisis, as investors fretted about Greek debt amid widespread protests against the government's austerity programme.
World oil prices slumped further on Thursday after the International Energy Agency cut its global demand outlook, while traders also take their cue from sliding global equities and China's latest bid to keep a lid on inflation.
Among other commodities, copper, silver and gold also fell sharply as traders worried over the state of world demand.
"There is so much uncertainty in the markets at the moment, following tentative conditions in the eurozone and mixed economic figures from the United States, eurozone and the UK," said analyst Myrto Sokou at the Sucden brokerage.
"Investors should remain cautious amid these fragile economic conditions, as it seems that some profit-taking has emerged in the commodity markets, with investors trying to lock in recent profits."
Asian equities also tumbled on Thursday after selling on Wall Street caused by heavy falls in commodities and lingering concerns over European debt.
Tokyo closed down 1.50 %, its biggest percentage loss in a month, while Sydney fell 1.76 %, Hong Kong dropped 0.94 % and Shanghai lost 1.36 %.
In Wall Street on Wednesday, the Dow tumbled 1.02 %, the S&P 500 index lost 1.11 % and tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell 0.93 %, as investors took flight over sliding oil prices.