European shares closed down well over one per cent on Wednesday as economic data showing weakness in the euro zone and oil prices continued to tumble.
Crude has fallen by more than seven dollars a barrel since Friday because of slowing demand in the United States and other consuming nations and on signs the US energy sector will recover quickly from Hurricane Gustav.
Retailers suffered from new figures showing European retail sales declined in July.
Banks remained weak, led by Barclays which analysts at RBS said might need to raise as much as nine billion euros in new capital.
Mining stocks were substantially down, tracking further falls in metals prices.