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FRANKFURT -- The big-caps, top-heavy from strong gains during the first three weeks of the new year, were tipping over across Europe today.

The mood was negative from the start this morning after losses overnight on Wall Street and in Asia. Bourses wilted as opening bells clanged across Europe. Further deterioration in Brazil's currency and economic outlook has splashed gasoline on smoldering concerns that other Latin American dominoes will fall.

Investors are worried that a resumption of emerging-market turmoil will be felt globally, hurting European economic growth and cutting into company profits.

In Frankfurt, the

Xetra Dax

was down 151 points, or 2.9%, at 5012. In London, the


was down 143, or 2.4%, at 5878. In Paris, the


was down 129, or 3.1%, at 4024.

Dollar/yen continued firm at 113.91, and the euro was trading at $1.1592.

Gerhard Schwarz, the head of portfolio strategy at


in Munich, advises investors to be careful until markets calm down. "I would not be buying today. I would wait to see what happens next week."

Like many others who think further stocks declines are possible, he sees a downward move as a healthy correction and believes the mid- to long-term trend remains up.

But many investors today are worried. In recent days, there had been concern that European stock-market gains had been too narrow, too concentrated in a few big names. And the casualties today read like a who's who of European giants, with firms with exposure to Latin America and other emerging markets among the hardest hit.

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was down 4.5%;



, down 3.7%;



, down 3.7%;

Banque Nationale de Paris

, down 5.1%;


, down 3.4%;

France Telecom


, down 2.9%,

Deutsche Telekom

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, down 6.6%; and Unilever

(UL) - Get Unilever PLC Report

, down 2.5%.

It's hard to believe, but even U.K. telecoms were not seen as a safe haven today.



was down 6.2%;


(VOD) - Get Vodafone Group Plc Report

, down 3.4%; and

Cable & Wireless


, down 5.9%.

Concern about emerging-markets contagion and further currency devaluations was reflected in a 3.1% drop in Hong Kong's

Hang Seng

index to close below 10,000 at 9,738. In London, two banks with large Asia exposure were walloped:


fell 4.4%, and

Standard Chartered

dropped 5.0%.