Global stock markets have fallen sharply as fears of military conflict in Ukraine sent shares sliding.
European markets tumbled by 4% to their lowest levels since October, after Nato said it was reinforcing its eastern borders with land, sea and air forces as a Russian invasion of Ukraine appeared increasingly likely.
In the City of London, the blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 2.4% to a one-month low in afternoon trading on Monday, with miners, energy firms, financial companies, housebuilders and travel stocks weaker.
In New York, the S&P 500 index of US stocks shed 2.3% in early trading. That took the S&P 500 more than 10% off its record high set at the start of January and into correction territory.
Investors rushed to safe-haven assets such as the US dollar, and also the Swiss franc, which hit a six-year high against the euro.
The sell-off in risk assets hit cryptocurrencies, with bitcoin falling to a six-month low of about $33,000 (£24,537).
Investors were also concerned that the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, would raise interest rates several times this year, starting in March, after US inflation hit a 40-year high of 7% last month.
The Fed, which will meet this week, could also start to run down its balance sheet this year, removing some of the stimulus introduced since the Covid pandemic began.
The prospect of tighter monetary policy has driven technology stocks lower, and the Nasdaq Composite index dropped 2.75% on Monday, adding to recent losses.
The UK’s FTSE 250 index of medium-sized companies tumbled by 4%, hitting its lowest level since March 2021. The cybersecurity firm Darktrace was down 12.5%, the newspaper publisher Reach fell 11.5%, while the cinema chain Cineworld and the publishing group Future dropped 9%.
“The double-whammy of risk events is proving too much for Wall Street to handle, with the Nasdaq once again leading the charge lower as the tech rout deepens,” said Fiona Cincotta, a senior financial markets analyst at City Index.
“Meanwhile, embassy staff are being pulled out of Kiev amid growing fears that Russia could send troops into Ukraine imminently. Talks last week between the US and Russia failed to pave the way to a solution. Fears of war are driving the risk-off trade with bonds rising.”
Gas prices soared, with the wholesale day-ahead price of UK gas jumping 17.5%, on concerns that Russian supplies of energy to Europe could be disrupted.