Stocks in the United States fell to six-week lows on Wednesday due to worries about steeper losses at banks worldwide as US retail sales data pointed to a deepening recession.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were down by more than 3% and all 30 Dow stocks were in the red.
Fears about the banking sector were exacerbated after Deutsche Bank said it lost more than $6 billion last quarter.
Morgan Stanley also forecast that HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, may need to raise up to $US30 billion of capital.
Sales at US retailers fell 2.7% in December as the consumers cut their spending. Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of US
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 248.42 points, or 2.94%, to 8,200.14. Standard & Poor's 500 Index gave up 29.17 points, or 3.35 %, at 842.62. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 56.82 points, or 3.67%, to 1,489.64.
It was the sixth consecutive day of declines for the Dow.
Trading was moderate on the New York Stock Exchange, with about 1.42 billion shares changing hands - below last year's estimated daily average of roughly 1.9 billion. About 1.94 billion shares were traded on the Nasdaq.