The FTSE 100 index has plummeted towards the 5,000 mark amidst renewed fears over the state of the US economy.
Investment and pension funds will have suffered as shares on these shores and around the world fell sharply this morning.
The slide came after the Federal Reserve warned the US economy still faced 'significant downside risks'.
At the same time, the Fed announced new measures to try to stimulate the economy.
It appears, however, that the plan has only served to spook the markets and send investors diving for cover.
"Recent indicators point to continuing weakness in overall labour market conditions, and the unemployment rate remains elevated," said a statement from the Fed.
It added that household spending has been increasing at only a modest pace, investment in non-residential property is still weak, and that the housing sector remains depressed.
"There are significant downside risks to the economic outlook, including strains in global financial markets," it concluded.
Following the announcement, shares started to slide around the world.
At 1pm, the FTSE 100 index was down 4.45% for the day.
The fall of 235 points meant the index was at 5,052.
Volatility in the stock markets has been rife in recent months, with the Eurozone debt crisis and ongoing concerns over the state of the UK economy amongst the myriad of factors influencing the value of investments on a daily basis.
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