Wall Street stocks suffered a second straight round of losses Thursday as the Federal Reserve signal of a pullback on stimulus by year-end added to worries over the hit from the latest Covid-10 wave.
The minutes of the Fed's July policy meeting showed broad consensus among policymakers on their expectations for a slowdown in the massive monthly bond purchases in the coming months.
The report was not surprising given recent commentary from Fed officials and initially provoked little movement in stocks, but equities fell sharply in the final hour of trading, finishing about one percent lower.
"As summer comes to a close, market sentiment will likely continue to be pressured" by factors that include worries over the Delta variant of Covid-19 and Afghanistan, "as well as the anxiously awaited announcement of the Fed's (stimulus) tapering timetable," CFRA Research's Sam Stovall said in a note.
In European trading, London and Paris shares ended lower, while Frankfurt managed a gain.
"The source of uncertainty is almost entirely due to the resilience of Covid and virus-related restrictions which have negatively impacted the global economy recovery," noted ThinkMarkets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.
Asian indices, meanwhile, rallied on Wednesday as investors went fishing for bargain shares despite a fresh lockdown in New Zealand and a curfew imposed in Australia's second-largest city of Melbourne due to a Delta outbreak.
That fueled fresh virus concerns along with travel restrictions in China, the world's second-largest economy.
A lackluster US retail sales report on Tuesday has exacerbated worries on Wall Street about the latest Covid-19 wave.
But Asian markets appeared unmoved by gloomy prospects, with Tokyo snapping a four-day losing streak to close higher Wednesday.
Hong Kong also closed on a high, with investors seemingly broadly unfazed by new antitrust plans from Beijing designed to rein in China's burgeoning tech giants -- plans that saw Chinese firms listed on Wall Street slide overnight.
But oil prices fell for a fifth straight session following US data showing a jump in gasoline inventories.
- Key figures around 2050 GMT -
New York - Dow: DOWN 1.1 percent at 34,960.69 (close)
New York - S&P 500: DOWN 1.1 percent at 4,400.27 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.9 percent at 14,525.91 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,169.32 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 15,965.97 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.7 percent at 6,770.11 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 4,189.42 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.6 percent at 27,585.91 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.5 percent at 25,867.01 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.1 percent at 3,485.29 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1712 from $1.1710
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3753 from $1.3741
Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.14 pence from 85.21 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 109.77 yen from 109.60 yen
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.7 percent at $65.46 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.2 percent at $69.23 per barrel