US stocks dive on growth fears

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks opened sharply lower Wednesday, following European markets in a decisive downward tilt on worries about global economic growth.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 16,040.62, down a hefty 274.57 points (1.68 per cent).

The broad-based S&P 500 tumbled 29.61 (1.58 per cent) to 1,848.09 while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index sank 77.81 (1.84 per cent) to 4,149.36.

Analysts cited fears about global growth as a primary driver for the sell-off. Equity markets in France and Germany both fell more than 2 per cent.

"Central banks can't afford to lose the confidence of global stock markets, yet incoming economic data is prompting many investors to question their faith in the belief that central bankers can change the economic dynamic with easy monetary policy," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.