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Global stocks sell-off accelerates

The rout in global stocks showed no sign of abating on Tuesday, with Europe slipping after falls on Wall Street and in Asia, as weak US data compounded worries about emerging markets.

LONDON: The rout in global stocks showed no sign of abating on Tuesday, with Europe slipping after falls on Wall Street and in Asia, as weak US data compounded worries about emerging markets.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index fell 0.40 per cent to 6,440.11 points in late morning deals, hit also by poor results from energy firms BP and BG Group.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 shed 0.96 per cent to 9,098.39 points and in Paris the CAC 40 index lost 0.21 per cent to 4,099.57 compared with Monday's close.

The euro and the dollar both hit two-month lows against the Japanese yen -- considered a haven during uncertainty -- before staging a modest rebound.

The European single currency fell as low as 136.23 yen and the dollar slid to 100.76 yen in earlier Asian deals. The euro, meanwhile, dipped against the dollar.

"The market feels like it's been hit by a freight train and traders are asking what exactly is going on," said analyst Chris Weston at trading firm IG.

"What started out as a profit-taking exercise has steamrolled into something far more substantial."

Asian markets slumped on Tuesday -- led by a four-per-cent fall in Tokyo -- following a huge sell-off on Wall Street as disappointing Chinese and US manufacturing data rocked sentiment.

"It is definitely a risk-off attitude that dominates the markets right now, sparked by the macro data that indicates that the two biggest economies in the world are losing momentum," added Varengold Bank analyst Anita Paluch.

"Reduced appetite for risk means equities are not in demand as investors avoid them and position themselves on the sidelines for the time being. Not much of a dip buying either in the sight; volatility is on the rise."

Traders were also spooked by a warning from US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who warned that the US borrowing limit will be reached on Friday, renewing fears of a Washington stand-off and possible default.

Japanese stocks noses dived 4.18 per cent, with the headline index shedding 14 per cent in a month after a huge rally last year, as the market enters what many analysts have called a correction phase.

Tokyo's Nikkei-225 index dived 610.66 points to 14,008.47, the worst one-day drop since June.

The market in Seoul sank 1.73 per cent and Hong Kong plunged 2.89 per cent, with Chinese tech giant Lenovo diving 16.40 per cent on fears it may have bitten off more than it can chew with the recent purchase of struggling Motorola from Google for US$2.91 billion.

Shanghai and Taipei were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Tuesday's markets falls came after a surprisingly weak US manufacturing report sparked a heavy round of selling on Wall Street owing to concerns about the strength of the world's number one economy.

New York's Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 2.08 per cent, the S&P 500 fell 2.28 per cent and the Nasdaq shed 2.61 per cent.

Wall Street took a hammering after the Institute for Supply Management said its purchasing managers index (PMI) of manufacturing activity fell to 51.3 in January from 56.5 in December.

Over the weekend, meanwhile, China released official figures showing its PMI fell to 50.5 in January from 51 in December, and HSBC last week said its PMI for the country came in at a six-month low of 49.5.

Emerging markets have also been shaken by the prospect of capital flight as the US central bank pulls back on its stimulus programme, which has been widely credited with fuelling an equities rally last year.

Credit Agricole analyst Mitul Kotecha said "suffice to say investors should steer clear of risk assets, such as equities, over the short term as the turmoil does not look like it will be over anytime soon".

Last week's decision by the US Federal Reserve to cut its bond-buying policy by US$10 billion to US$65 billion a month has heightened investor fears about emerging markets.

Gold slipped to US$1,255.30 an ounce from US$1,262 an ounce on Monday on the London Bullion Market.

In company news in the British capital, BP shares slid 1.55 per cent to 466.25 pence after the energy major disappointed traders with falling fourth-quarter profits.

BG Group, however, saw its shares jump 1.51 per cent to 1,040.50 pence, as investors shrugged off a fourth-quarter loss from the company after last week's profits warning.

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