World Markets Retreat on Growth Concerns
Concerns over growth were fuelled by falling US retail sales in September and dimming expectations of a interest rate hike by the central bank.
The S&P 500 fell as much as 3%, briefly turning negative for the year before closing down 0.8%.
In early trading the Nikkei 225 fell more than 2% to a four-and-a-half-month low. Among the losers were shares of Toyota, down over 2% after the car manufacturer issued a recall of 1.75m vehicles on Wednesday.
Hong Kong shares opened down almost 1% as the Hang Seng Index fell 226.55 points to 22,913.50.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite fell 0.5% to 2,451.65 points after data showed that the rate of inflation in September fell.
In South Korea, shares followed the global downtrend.
In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was lower 1% at 5,194.80 points.
The benchmark Kospi was down 0.7% after the Bank of Korea cut its interest rate for the second time in the last three months on Wednesday, and also downgraded its growth forecasts for the economy for this year.
The FTSE opened at a 16-month low on 6,211.64.
Fears about the impact that the Ebola outbreak could have on airlines has also added to the slump in equity markets.