Wall Street extended its slide into a sixth session and a global equity index fell to a 1-year low on Thursday as investors feared an escalating U.S. trade war with China and risks from a recent climb in interest rates.
The Nasdaq flirted with correction territory, sliding as much as 10.3 per cent from its Aug. 29 closing record high, before paring losses to end off those levels and avoiding confirming a correction.
MSCI's gauge of stock performance in 47 countries dropped 2.2 per cent, falling below its February lows to trade at its lowest since October 2017.
Gold, typically seen as a safe-haven asset during times of extreme volatility, rose as sliding global stock markets prompted risk-wary investors to buy the metal, and a drop in U.S. Treasury bond yields helped push the dollar lower.
In equities, Wall Street slid as risk-appetite showed no signs of picking up and volatility spiked. The Cboe Volatility index ended the day up at 24.98, its highest close since Feb. 12, a day after the S&P 500 dropped more than 3 per cent in its biggest daily decline since Feb. 8.
"When you have a shocking day like yesterday, people are caught off guard, and there are a lot of adjustments going on below the surface. There tends to be a lot of volatility the day after a shocking day, and over the next several days or weeks," said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at SunTrust Advisory Services in Atlanta.
The selloff came as investors prepared for the start of U.S. quarterly earnings, with JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup due to report Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 545.91 points, or 2.13 per cent, to 25,052.83, the S&P 500 lost 57.31 points, or 2.06 per cent, to 2,728.37 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 92.99 points, or 1.25 per cent, to 7,329.06.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional shares lost 2 per cent.
U.S. Treasury yields fell to one-week lows as stocks sold off. A weaker-than-expected rise in U.S. inflation for September also added to Treasuries bullish tone.
In late afternoon trading, U.S. 10-year note yields were at 3.146 per cent, down from 3.225 per cent late on Wednesday. Earlier in the global session, 10-year yields hit a one-week low of 3.124 per cent.
U.S. consumer prices rose less than analysts had forecast in September, reducing expectations the pace of inflation is accelerating despite a tightening labour market.
Whether the lower reading will quell expectations the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates again in December remains to be seen, said Yousef Abbasi, global market strategist at INTL FCStone in New York.
"The thing people are trying to hang their hat on is a cooler CPI read. That potentially gets us to rally," Abbasi said.
The dollar fell to a near two-week low against a basket of currencies.
The dollar index fell 0.52 per cent, with the euro up 0.63 per cent to $1.1591.
Oil prices slumped to two-week lows as global stock markets fell, with investor sentiment made more bearish by an industry report showing U.S. crude inventories rising more than expected.
Brent crude futures fell $2.83 to settle at $80.26 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $2.20 to settle at $70.97 a barrel.
Spot gold rose 2.6 per cent to $1,225.26.
(With inputs from agencies.)