More than £30 billion was wiped off the value of Britain’s biggest companies yesterday as new levels of hysteria in the US banking crisis fuelled fears about the economic and financial fallout on both sides of the Atlantic.

In its latest brutal losses in the grip of a new bear market, the FTSE 100 index of bluechip shares tumbled by another 128.5 points, or 2.4%, yesterday after Ben Bernanke highlighted 'numerous difficulties' ahead. .

After the US Treasury gave an emergency $15bn (£7.5bn) funding lifeline at the weekend to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the stricken giants that underpin a vast slice of American mortgage lending, fears that the US economic turmoil has entered a dangerous phase spilt over into the stock market in London, sending shares plunging again. The three-year low brought more misery to individual investors and British pension funds.

Financial Times, The Times