The new year has started in much the same way the old one ended for investors, with weak economic data sparking sharp share price falls.
2018 was the worst year for global stock markets since the financial crisis, with the MSCI All World Index down 11.5 per cent for the year.
The S&P 500 index lost 6 per cent.
But opening hours of trading of 2019 have brought little in the way of new year cheer, with the FTSE down 1.4 per cent, and the Dax index of European shares down 1 per cent.
The US market is expected to open 1.2 per cent lower later today (January 2).
The gloom can be traced to data emerging from China, which showed the country's manufacturing sector is in recession.
That comes on top of ongoing issues such as the US government shutdown, and negative economic growth in Germany and Japan.
Bruce Stout, who runs the £1.6bn Murray International investment trust, said a feature of markets at the end of 2018 has been that when markets start to perform a little better, investor reaction is to take advantage of the rally by selling.
Assets traditionally viewed as safe havens by investors, such as the Japanese yen and Gold, have performed strongly in recent weeks.