European shares finished down nearly five percent at their lowest levels in six years.
The markets remain worried about the need for companies to raise more capital and the prospect of further bank nationalisations due to the deepening economic downturn. Banking stocks on both sides of the Atlantic were big losers. Swiss banks suffering particularly from the US tax probe into UBS. Looking for safe havens, investors dumped shares and bought government bands and gold, pushing bullion futures up to a seven-month high above $1,000 an ounce. Energy stocks slid along with crude oil prices and Saab’s troubles hit carmakers’ shares. The euro fell against the dollar.