Investors dumped stocks on Tuesday in the worst session on Wall Street in three months, on the fear that a financial rescue package for Greece might not be enough to prevent its debt crisis from spreading.
The Dow Jones Index shed 225 points, or 2%, to close at 10,927. The Nasdaq Composite fell 75 points, or 3%, to 2424.
All the European markets also fell. The FTSE 100 in London was down 142 points, or 2.56%, at 5411.
The CAC-40 in Paris fell 139 points, or 3.64%, to 3,689 and the DAX in Frankfurt fell by 160 points, or 2.6%, to 6007.
The Australian 200 Index closed on Tuesday down 48 points, or 1%, at 4737.
The NZX50 closed up 18 points, or 0.5%, at 3298 on turnover of $42 million.
At 8.17am on Wednesday, the New Zealand dollar was trading at 71.96 US cents, 79.15 Australian cents, 47.51 pence, 68.02 yen and 0.5541 euro. The Trade Weighted Index was at 67.91.
Earlier, Brent crude oil was trading at $US85.53 per barrel and gold was trading at $US1169.95 per ounce.