European stocks fell for the third consecutive day on Tuesday, as worries persisted about the financial sector and the breadth and depth of the recession.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares fell 1.4% to 719.38 points - its lowest close since March 2003 for the third successive day.
The broader STOXX 600 index fell 1.4% to 172.86 points.
Consumer confidence in the United States fell to another record low in February. The Conference Board said its sentiment index fell to 25 from 37.4 in January.
US house prices fell at the fastest pace on record in December.
Pharmaceutical companies were down: Shares in Roche fell 3.8% after Genentech percent urged shareholders to reject an offer for a further 44% of the company.
Swiss biotech group Basilea was down 36.8%. Novartis and Sanofi-Aventis fell 1.9% and 1.7% respectively.
In the finance sector: AXA fell 5.6%. Belgian banking and insurance group KBC slipped 3.4%.
Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse fell 1.5% and 3.6% respectively. German insurer Allianz lost 4%.
In Frankfurt, the DAX index ended at 3,895.75 points, down 40.7 or 1.03%. In Paris, the CAC-40 index closed at 2,708.05 points, down 19.82 or 0.73%.
The Swiss market index closed at 4,723.02 points, down 74.1 or 1.54%.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei was down 107.60 points, 1.4%, at 7,268.56 - its lowest close since 27 October. Losses to date this yearare 18%.
Shares in Hong Kong shares slumped 2.8%. The Hang Seng Index closed down almost 377 points at 12,798.52.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index shed 19.6 points, 0.58% to 3,331.6 - its lowest close since February 2004. The index is now down 10.5% in 2009, adding to last year's 42% slide.
The S&P/ASX200 index was down 19.6 points, or 0.58%, to 3331.6, while the All Ordinaries index lost 19.1 points, or 0.58%, to 3285.
On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the March share price index futures contract was 46 points weaker at 3315 on a volume of 24,620 contracts.
In New Zealand, the NZX50 closed down 50 points, or 2%, at 2487 on Tuesday - a five-year low. Turnover was $83 million.
The market is now below 2500 points for the first time since January 2004.