European stock markets fell Thursday as investors become increasingly concerned by rising virus infections, new lockdowns, a slowing economic recovery, stalled US stimulus talks and uncertainty over the coming election.
Global equities have notched up impressive gains in recent months, but the so-called "bull" run has sputtered to a halt in the past few weeks, as expectations fade that a wave of fresh cash from governments and central banks will be sufficient to kick-start the economy.
"Markets are digesting and grappling with this idea that the growth expectations that investors have might not materialise," said Lauren Goodwin at New York Life Investments.
"As the fiscal impulse in the US starts to wane, some of these expectations for a slow and steady recovery are shaken."
US stocks finished with modest gains following a choppy session.
Markets got a lift midday on news that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved to assemble a new spending bill to boost the US economy. Reports said Pelosi is eyeing a $2.4 trillion bill, still much bigger than the package that Republicans have favored.
Earlier, the Labor Department said jobless claims in the United States last week rose slightly to 870,000 as the world's biggest economy continues to face headwinds following the upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index in London closed 1.3 percent lower.
Markets continued "to grapple with a host of uncertainties," investment bank Charles Schwab noted.
With the northern hemisphere now heading into autumn and winter, there is also concern that a second wave of coronavirus will force the reimposition of strict, economically devastating containment measures.
France is shutting bars and restaurants in its second-biggest city Marseille and putting it on "maximum alert," while several other cities, including Paris, will see new restrictions as well.
Britain's government has also shortened pub opening hours and has warned of other measures, while Spain's Madrid region has locked down roughly 850,000 people and plans to extend its curbs.
- Key figures around 2100 GMT -
New York - Dow Jones: UP 0.2 percent at 26,815.44 (close)
New York - S&P 500: UP 0.3 percent at 3,246.59 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.4 percent at 10,672.27 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.3 percent at 5,822.78 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.3 percent at 12,606.57 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.8 percent at 4,762.62 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,159.64 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.1 percent at 23,087.82 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 1.8 percent at 23,311.07 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.7 percent at 3,223.18 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1667 from $1.1660 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2743 from $1.2724
Euro/pound: DOWN at 91.54 pence from 91.64 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 105.41 yen from 105.39 yen
West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.0 percent at $40.31 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.4 percent at $41.94 per barrel