Eurozone bond market tensions rose sharply, world stock markets tumbled and the euro single currency slumped against the dollar on Tuesday as investors sought safety from the debt crisis.
Traders overlooked robust German growth data and positive company earnings from the likes of easyJet and Burberry to focus on whether political upheaval in Italy and Greece would truly help to turn around the eurozone's fortunes.
Italy, Greece and Spain paid sharply higher borrowing rates in separate bond issues, European stock markets slumped 2.0 percent nearing the half-way stage and the euro dived under $1.36 on worries of further debt contagion.
Asia-Pacific shares mostly closed lower, with Tokyo slipping 0.72 percent, Sydney losing 0.44 percent and Hong Kong shedding 0.82 percent.
"Any initial temporary relief from the ongoing formation of mainly technocrat governments in Greece and Italy has again proved short-lived," said Lee Hardman, currency economist at The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in London.
"While any new Italian technocrat government will likely improve the likelihood of more credible fiscal consolidation measures and required economic reforms being implemented, the market will need to be convinced," he added.
As Italy's new leader Mario Monti launched a final round of talks to form a government, the country's 10-year cost of borrowing rose back above the acute danger level of 7.0 percent.
In Athens, Greece raised 1.3 billion euros ($1.78 billion) in a sale of three-month treasury bills but had to pay investors a higher rate of 4.63 percent as parliament debated approval of a new interim government.
Meanwhile in Madrid, Spain paid sharply higher borrowing rates of more than five percent at a 3.16-billion-euro bond issue, amid fears that the country would join Greece and Italy in succumbing to eurozone financial instability.
In European stock market trade, London's FTSE 100 index dropped 1.22 percent to 5,451.88 points approaching midday.
Frankfurt's DAX 30 slid 2.17 percent to 5,855.43 points and in Paris the CAC 40 shed 2.07 percent to 3,044.73 points. Milan shares tumbled 2.02 percent and Madrid was off 2.05 percent.
The (tensions on the) bond markets is convincing investors to shy away from risky asset classes and stocks which have particular exposures to sovereign debt," said Joshua Raymond, chief market strategist at City Index traders.
In foreign exchange deals, the euro plunged to $1.3526 from $1.3629 in New York late Monday. The single currency also dropped against the yen, which was trading slightly higher against the dollar.
"The yen and US dollar have continued to strengthen, reflecting building investor concerns over the still escalating eurozone sovereign debt crisis," said analyst Hardman.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a party congress on Monday that Europe was in its perhaps worst period since World War II but the crisis could offer a chance to make it stronger.
Merkel rallied 1,000 members of her ruling conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) saying the euro was a symbol of European unity, peace, freedom and prosperity but it was time for a "breakthrough" to a new Europe.