The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slipped 3 percent after first- time jobless claims climbed to the highest level since 1992. General Motors Corp. sank 7.9 percent on speculation time is running out for Congress to save the biggest U.S. automaker.
European stocks slumped, sending the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index to the lowest level since 2003, on concern bank losses will increase and corporate profits will crumble as the recession spreads.
Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index declined 4.1 percent to 185.82, the lowest since April 2003, at 2:42 p.m. in London. National benchmark indexes retreated in all of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 lost 3.3 percent. Germany's DAX slid 3.6 percent. France's CAC 40 sank 4.4 percent.
Asian stocks fell, driving the region's benchmark index to its lowest level since August 2003, as Japan's exports declined the most in almost seven years and U.S. consumer prices sank by a record.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slumped 5.1 percent to 75.16 at 7:10 p.m. in Tokyo, extending this week's decline to 9.5 percent. Twelve stocks dropped for each that rose on the measure. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 6.9 percent to 7,703.04. Australian S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 4.2 percent to 3,352.90, the lowest since May 17, 2004. Chinese CSI 300 Index fell 20.73, or 1.1 percent, to 1,932.43.