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U.S., world markets fall sharply after Fed action on bonds


BERLIN — Markets worldwide tumbled Thursday as the global economic outlook appeared increasingly shaky, with investors fearing for the fate of European banks and Chinese growth and reacting to a dour outlook on the U.S. economy from the Federal Reserve.

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 300 points, or nearly 3 percent, in early morning trading on Thursday, after the Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it sees “significant downside risks” to the economy. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index opened down more than 2 percent.

Also Thursday, the shipping company Federal Express, often viewed as a bellwether for the broader economy, projected weaker earnings over the months ahead.

Chinese stocks were down 2.8 percent as measured by the Shanghai composite index, reflecting new rumbles that the Chinese growth juggernaut could slow. Shares of two large Chinese real estate developers fell steeply after an analyst report on the risk of a default amid credit-tightening efforts by Chinese officials looking to fight inflation.

Global commodities were down across the board, as the weakening outlook for world economic growth implied less demand for everything from oil to agricultural products to precious metals. Crude oil was down more than 5 percent to around $81 a barrel Thursday, and even gold, which has soared to new highs on concerns about economic stability, was down around 4 percent to $1,740 an ounce.

Key European and Asian indexes were down more than 4 percent.

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