Looks like the bears are out of hibernation.

A late sell-off in European markets has pushed major indices sharply lower, continuing the new surge of volatility which has alarmed investors this week after a long period of calm.

Germany’s DAX index was down 3.1 per cent, with semiconductor maker Infineon Technologies and airline Lufthansa at the bottom of the pile, nursing losses of 5.6 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively.

France’s CAC 40 was off by 2.4 per cent, as was Spain’s Ibex 35. Italy’s FTSE MIB dropped by 2.3 per cent. The FTSE 100 fared slightly better, down 1.5 per cent.

The sudden dump towards the end of the day deepens year to date losses in European large-cap shares — Europe’s blue-chip index, the Euro Stoxx 50, has lost just over 2 per cent of its value since the start of the year.

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