High oil prices and unemployment put investors on the edge
Leading US stock market indexes have plummeted around 3% after the price of oil soared to yet another record high.
The Dow Jones index of 30 leading shares fell nearly 400 points to close at 12,209 - a drop of 3.13%.
The S&P500, seen as a better market barometer, fell 43 points to 1,360.68, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq shed 75 points to close at 2,474.
Investor confidence had been shaken by a sharp increase in US unemployment, and a jump of $11 in the price of oil.
It was the largest one-day rise in the history of US oil markets, with one barrel of light crude oil now trading for around $139.
Earlier in the day markets had been surprised by a sudden rise during May in the US rate of unemployment, from 5% to 5.5% - the sharpest increase in more than two decades.
Financial services firms and airlines were the biggest losers on Wall Street, with United Airlines down nearly 15%, Washington Mutual down 12.5%, and Northwest Airlines, Continental and American Airlines all seeing their shares drop just under 9%.
The bad economic news from the United States had also startled European investors, with London's FTSE 100 index falling 1.48%, Frankfurts Dax shedding 1.99% and the Cac 40 in Paris down 2.28%.