Investors sought to staunch the bleed on Wednesday after world stocks suffered their worst rout since January, while U.S. and European borrowing costs raced to their highest in months.
Asia managed to slow the falls and the pan-European STOXX 600 index bounced 1 percent in early trading after shedding 2.2 percent on Tuesday and after all three major Wall Street indexes suffered their steepest drops since mid-July.
The global benchmarks for borrowing costs - the yields on U.S. and German government bonds - edged lower, with traders waiting to hear from the heads of the European Central Bank, the U.S. Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan and Bank of England later.
"The question that will come in the next 10 days is will the U.S. Treasury yield keep pushing above 1.5 percent," said Societe Generale strategist Kenneth Broux. "That was a sort of breaking point for broader risk assets when stops went off and the selloff started accelerating."
Broux said the question for October and the rest of the year would be whether inflation pressures started to abate. "The 1.5 perent level (on U.S. Treasuries) is really pivotal," he said.
Doubts are re-emerging about the global recovery at a time when the Fed is set to taper stimulus and the U.S. administration is stuck in debt ceiling talks that could lead to a government shutdown. China is also grappling with a power crunch that has hit its economic output.
World stocks are heading for their first red quarter since the peak of COVID panic, while the dollar is on course for its best year since 2015 and gas and energy prices have surged.
But companies face pressure on margins as higher energy prices are locked into next year's bills.
U.S. Futures suggested a risk-friendlier mood could return on Wall Street. S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.6 percent and those for the Nasdaq were up 0.8 percent after that index had been pounded 3.6 percent on Tuesday by heavy tech stock selling.
China's worsening power crunch pushed investors out of Chinese stocks vulnerable to factory shutdowns, including chemicals and steelmaking, even as the country's economic planning agency sought to reassure residents and businesses.
Debt saddled property giant China Evergrande's shares leapt 15 percent though after it said it planned to sell a 9.99 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) stake in Shengjing Bank.
Investors are waiting to see whether the developer makes an overdue interest payment on a dollar bond and S&P said another major property firm, Fantasia, was also at risk of default.