European stock markets closed sharply lower this evening - hitting a three month low.

They extended losses on concerns over the global growth outlook and as a strong far-right showing in French presidential polls jangled nerves.

The Paris CAC slumped 2.8%, while Frankfurt's DAX lost 3.36% and London's FTSE shed 1.85% at close at 5,666.

Other markets were equally badly hit, with Milan slumping 3.8% and Madrid down 2.7% as the cost of borrowing for Spain rose above 6% again - a level considered unsustainable.

In Amsterdam, stocks lost 2.5% after the coalition government resigned when it could not agree on spending plans aimed at stabilising the strained public finances.

Dublin's ISEQ index closed over 2% lower this evening, while on Wall Street the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq had fallen over 1%.