Global stock markets fell Wednesday, with key New York indexes ending in a sea of red as traders grappled with inconclusive US election results and upheaval in the cryptocurrency market.
Wall Street stocks tumbled, with the Dow losing nearly 650 points, snapping a three-day rally partly built on expectations that Republicans would win at least one chamber of Congress from US President Joe Biden's Democratic party -- bringing about a gridlock scenario seen as benign for markets.
For now, Republicans appeared headed for a narrow majority in the US House of Representatives, although gains were slimmer than expected.
"The stock market had a nice, little run leading up to election day based on the gridlock angle," said Patrick O'Hare at Briefing.com.
"It appears that is going to be the case, so participants are taking some money off the table," he added.
Investors also took note of the continued slide of Bitcoin which tumbled on fallout from the near-collapse of cryptocurrency platform FTX, reaching a low at $16,034.70.
Binance, the world's biggest cryptocurrency platform, announced it was ending plans to acquire rival FTX.com a day after disclosing it signed a non-binding letter of intent to buy FTX.
"Even if you are not involved in cryptos, the turmoil is definitely something to keep an eye on, as it may be an additional factor impacting risk appetite across the financial markets," said market analyst Fawad Razaqzada at City Index and FOREX.com.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by nearly two percent, while the broad-based S&P 500 lost 2.1 percent lower and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slumped as well.
But the dollar rose strongly against the British pound, which has been under pressure owing to the UK's bleak economic outlook.
Oil prices dipped as well, as official data from China showed the world's second-largest economy languishing under its strict zero-Covid policy, and US stockpiles increased.
- 'No good news from China' -
In China, speculation over how long Beijing will keep its harsh Covid-19 policies including lockdowns and mass testing has fueled volatility on markets, despite the government vowing it will not change course.
The restrictions have taken a toll on the Chinese economy, with data Wednesday showing China's producer price index fell 1.3 percent year-on-year in October, pushing it into negative territory for the first time since December 2020.
The consumer price index (CPI) -- the main gauge for retail inflation -- rose 2.1 percent from a year ago in October, moderating slightly from September's two-year high.
"The economy's slowing, confirmed by the CPI data," Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING Wholesale Banking, told AFP.
"I don't see any good news from China."
Inflation will also be in focus Thursday with the much-anticipated US CPI data, which will be analyzed for its implications for US monetary policy.
- Key figures around 2130 GMT -
New York - Dow: DOWN 2.0 percent at 32,513.94 (close)
New York - S&P 500: DOWN 2.1 percent at 3,748.57 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 2.5 percent at 10,353.175 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,728.03 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,296.25 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.2 percent at 13,666.32 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 6,430.57 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.6 percent at 27,716.43 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.2 percent at 16,358.52 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,048.17 (close)
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.1352 from $1.1544 on Tuesday
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0017 from $1.0076
Dollar/yen: UP at 146.37 yen from 145.58 yen
Euro/pound: UP at 88.19 pence from 87.26 pence
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 3.5 percent at $85.83 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 2.8 percent at $92.65 per barrel