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) -- World stocks took a tumble Monday as signs from Friday of flagging U.S. consumer confidence turned investors skittish around the globe.

Indeed, while there may be nothing to fear but fear itself, "fear itself" can still be quite palpable -- especially for investors already inclined toward thinking that their market runup had outpaced the world's underlying economic realities.

The slide began in the U.S. Friday, as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 76.79, or 0.8 percent, to 9,321.40 after falling as much as 165 points on the release of Friday's

weak U.S. consumer sentiment report

. Among the many losers in the financial sector Friday was



, which shed 0.5%, along with

JPMorgan Chase



Goldman Sachs


, which each dropped 1.1%. Fears of additional slowdown in the retails sector sent the

SPDR S&P Retail


down 2.5% Friday.

U.S. futures pointed to more losses Monday.

Today, Shanghai's market led sharp declines across Asia, plummeting nearly 6 percent. European benchmarks were about 1 percent lower, while prices for crude and other commodities fell.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average tumbled 328.72 points, or 3.1 percent, to 10,268.61.

Not to be outdone, Hong Kong's Hang Seng dived 3.6 percent to 20,137.65, while Korea's Kospi dropped 2.8 percent to 1,565.49 and India's Sensex shed 3 percent. Markets in Taiwan, Australia and Singapore fell back over 1 percent.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE-100 lost 1.7 percent, Germany's DAX shed nearly 2 percent and France's CAC-40 dropped 1.6 percent.

Investors seemed little comforted by news today that

Japan broke free from recession in its second quarter

, joining Germany and France as recent nations to do so. Japan, the world's second-largest economy, grew at an annualized 3.7% rate in the second quarter, compared to the prior quarter, as exports helped put an end to five straight quarterly declines.

Regardless, Japan's domestic demand remains weak. The nation's unemployment rate has risen to a six-year high of 5.4 percent, while its employee compensation fell by 1.7 percent during the quarter.

-- Written by Ty Wenger in New York

Copyright 2009 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.