World stocks slid on Wednesday on worries about the pace of economic recovery after a dip in U.S. consumer confidence, while the Australian dollar fell as inflation figures pared bets on an aggressive rate rise.
European shares hit a three-week low, tracking losses in Asia and on Wall Street overnight, spurring safety bids for less risky government bonds. U.S. equity futures were down 0.2 percent, pointing to further losses on Wall Street.
The Conference Board's weaker-than-expected U.S. consumer confidence index for October dampened investor appetite for riskier assets like equities and high-yielding and growth-related currencies.
As long as people feel uncertain about the sustainability of this global economic recovery, risk aversion will play a role, said Johan Javeus, a currency strategist at SEB in Stockholm.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell more than 1 percent, reversing the previous day's gains.
The MSCI's all-country world stocks index was down 0.5 percent by 0838 GMT (4:38 a.m. EDT) to its lowest in three weeks. Its emerging market sub-index was down 1.6 percent and Japan's Nikkei closing down 1.35 percent.
The Australian dollar fell to a two-week low after consumer price inflation was generally in line with forecasts but not strong enough to justify expectations for an aggressive interest rate rise by Australia's central bank next week.
In Europe, focus turns to Norway later on Wednesday, with Norges Bank expected to be the first European central bank to raise interest rates since the global financial crisis.
Euro zone government bonds and U.S. Treasuries were firmer but gains were seen limited as traders braced for fresh supply of German five-year bonds and five-year Treasury notes.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield was down about two basis points at 3.434 percent as were 10-year Bund yields at 3.246 percent.
With the global tone of equity markets weakening we think a bullish fixed income correction is becoming increasingly likely, Societe Generale analysts said in a note.
U.S. durable goods data, due later on Wednesday, will give further clues on the state of U.S. consumption.
Oil slipped to around $79 a barrel, giving up some of the previous day's 1.1 percent gain on weaker equities but losses were limited after industry data showed a surprise large drawdown in U.S. crude inventories.
Crude for December delivery fell more than 10 cents to $79.01 a barrel by 0925 GMT (5:25 a.m. EDT) , after settling up 87 cents on Tuesday, its first rise in four days.
(Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever and Ian Chua, editing by Mike Peacock)