Stock indexes tumbled in the U.S. and Europe Friday as investors worried about the faltering fortunes of emerging market countries across the globe.
Markets dropped in New York, Frankfurt, Paris and London in a broad stock sell-off, the latest of several market retreats that have pushed down stock prices throughout January.
The value of currencies in Hungary, Turkey and South Africa weakened, and world financial leaders voiced concern about the withdrawal of investment money from emerging economies.
The International Monetary Fund said it was difficult to pinpoint a specific reason for the decline in stock prices. But it said emerging market countries need to take "urgent action" to improve their economies. Both South Africa and Turkey have sharply boosted benchmark interest rates in an effort to stem the flow of capital out of their countries.
Some emerging economies have blamed the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, for the financial market turmoil as it continues to curb its direct economic support of the American economy, the world's largest. Fed policy makers said this week that in February they would again trim asset purchases designed to boost the U.S. economy as its fortunes steadily improve.
The emerging markets often led world economic growth during the global downturn in 2008 and 2009. But as interest rates edge higher in the U.S., investors are withdrawing their money from emerging economies in search of higher returns in the U.S.
India's central bank chief Raghuram Rajan said the U.S. should worry about the effects of its policies on the rest of the world. He said U.S. financial leaders should "do what is right," rather than just looking out for American interests.