Signs of slowing growth in Europe and China coupled with concerns about an Ebola outbreak sparked a global equity rout this month, leading some analysts to call the beginning of a market correction.
Weak economic data from Germany, the growth engine of Europe, have raised concerns that the euro zone could slip into a recession. On Tuesday, the German government slashed its 2014 economic growth forecast to 1.2 percent from 1.8 percent on the back of disappointing export, industrial production and factory orders data.
Meanwhile, Standard & Poor's cut the outlook on France's AA credit rating to 'negative' from 'stable' last week citing concerns that the government's budgetary position would continue to constrain growth prospects.
Slowing growth in China, the world's second largest economy, remains a major market concern. Goldman Sachs has cut its 2014 growth forecast to 7.3 percent from 7.7 percent citing the recent spate of weak economic data. The bank expects China to post sub-7-percent growth in 2016.
Against this backdrop, concerns about a wider Ebola outbreak are also at play after a second health-care worker in the U.S. tested positive for the disease.
U.S. stocks ended sharply lower on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 close to correction territory. Stock markets in Asia were also off to an ugly start Thursday, with Korea's Kospi and Japan's Nikkei at fresh multi-month lows .
As the market rout continues, is it time to run or is a buying opportunity at hand?