World stock markets were lower this evening, after news of a drop in US retail sales triggered fresh concerns about the prospects for economic recovery.

European markets had already been lower this morning, led by financial shares after weak results from some big insurance companies.

In Dublin, the ISEQ ended 117 points (4.5%) lower at 2,494. AIB shares lost 15 cent to end at 88 cent as angry shareholders confronted management at its EGM and AGM, but Bank of Ireland was also down, falling 22 cent to 95 cent, while Irish Life & Permanent dropped 53 cent to €2.20. CRH fell back 66 cent to finish at €16.95.

In London, the FTSE lost 94 points (2.1%) to end at 4,331, with Aviva falling 9% to 309p and Legal & General down 11% to 58p. Frankfurt's DAX fell 2.6% to 4,728 and in Paris the CAC lost 2.4% to 3,153.

On Wall Street, the retail sales drop in April affected sentiment, with the Dow Jones down 158 points to 8,311 and the Nasdaq losing 39 points to 1,677. Earlier, Japanese shares closed higher as investor sentiment remained upbeat despite some weak company results. The Nikkei added 42 points to 9,340. The Hang Seng fell 94 points to 17,060.