Wall Street stocks fell for a seventh consecutive session as the wrangling over the US debt ceiling faded and investors turned their attention to the stalling economy.
The seven days of losses mark the longest losing streak since October 2008.
The broad-based Standard & Poor's 500 Index crashed through the key 200-day moving average, dropping 33 points (2.56%) to 1,254.05.
The Dow Jones Index fell 266 points (2.2%) to close at 11,867, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 75 points (2.75%) to finish at 2669.
European stocks closed 1.8% lower. The Swiss franc rose to a record high against the euro and the US dollar on concerns about euro zone sovereign debt problems and the chance of a US credit downgrade.
On Tuesday, the NZX 50 fell 17 points to close at 3397.
In the currency markets, the New Zealand dollar on Wednesday morning was trading at US86.73 cents, 80.4 Australian, 53.24 pence, 66.87 yen and 0.6109 euro. The TWI stood at 74.39.