London's leading shares opened 1.6% lower today, following yesterday's turmoil on Wall Street as traders in Asia returned to dealing floors and sent Japan’s stocks down to a three-year low.

The FTSE 100 index of blue chip companies opened 83.8 points lower at 5,120.4, after closing yesterday down 190.70 points as traders reacted to Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy and AIG's search for $40 billion (£22 billion) to bailout the US insurance giant.

In London, HBOS, which owns Halifax, Britain's largest mortgage lender, lost a further 10.75% this morning to send its shares down to a record low of 207.5p.

Barclays, which today admitted it is examining whether to buy some of Lehman Brothers' assets, also saw its shares fall, down 5.3% to 299.25p

In Asia, where markets in Japan and Hong Kong re-opened after Monday's national holiday, the Nikkei fell by 5%, losing 605.04 points to end the day at 11,609.72 — the lowest close since July 2005.

In Hong Kong, the main Hang Seng index opened around 5% lower, and in Korea the main index fell by nearly 6% as investors bailed out of Samsung, the country’s largest bellwether stock.

Elsewhere in Asia, where trading had also been shielded from the worst of Monday’s mayhem by market holidays, the opening bells were a trigger for explosive movements in currencies, stocks and commodities.

The dollar plunged against the yen by its biggest one-day margin for nine years while investors in mainland China, whose market received the supposed fillip of a central bank interest rate cut yesterday, lopped 3% of value off the main index within a few minutes of trade starting.

Singapore oil deals quickly knocked $3 per barrel off Asian crude oil prices, sending the price down to a seven-month low of $92.85: many traders said that with the global economic outlook now in tatters, crude may not see solid support until about $85 per barrel.

The Times, The Guardian