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LONDON: World stocks sank Monday as trading floors were gripped by contagion fears from the expected collapse of debt-plagued Chinese property giant Evergrande, with investors also on red alert over spiking wholesale gas costs.

Sentiment is being dented by strong inflation, the Federal Reserve's plans to taper monetary policy, surging infections with the Delta variant of coronavirus, and signs of weakness in the global recovery.

Hong Kong dived 3.3 percent, spearheading Asian losses, with Evergrande widely expected to default on upcoming interest payments this week.

Europe tanked, with London losing 1.6 percent and Paris down 2.2 percent, while Frankfurt's newly expanded index dropped 2.3 percent in early afternoon deals.

World oil prices shed about two percent on energy demand worries.

Oil down on stronger greenback, rising US rig count

"Contagion risks from the Evergrande meltdown are the prime cause of today's sell-off," said Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.

"It is definitely though a major cause for investor concern right now and it is possible we see further losses."

Evergrande, one of China's biggest developers, is on the brink of collapse as it wallows in debts of more than $300 billion.

Mining shares were hard hit because of the potential economic impact on China, which has a voracious appetite for raw materials.

"Evergrande... appears to be teetering on the precipice with concerns about contagion from the situation infecting the wider economy in China," said AJ Bell analyst Russ Mould.

"Any downturn in China would have significant implications for commodities demand given its status as the world's largest consumer of many minerals and metals."

Anxiety is also running high over spiking wholesale gas costs, fuelling global inflationary pressures and sparking concern from the world's biggest central banks.

Against this backdrop, the Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting this week will be particularly important, according to Wilson.

"Does a Chinese property collapse and energy crisis collide with expectations for a Fed rate hike next year and biting inflationary pressures?" he wrote in a note to clients.

"That would be a pretty nasty cocktail for risk appetite and I think these are the risks being priced into today's selling."

Back in Hong Kong, property companies and banks bore the brunt of heavy selling.

Evergrande stock briefly plunged almost 19 percent before ending down 10 percent, sparking similar losses for Henderson Land and New World Development.

The Hang Seng Property Index meanwhile dropped more than six percent, its worst performance since May 2020.

Asia stocks on the skids, HK hits 11-month low

The selling was mirrored elsewhere in Asia, although Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul and Taipei were closed for holidays.

Despite the growing crisis, the Chinese government has yet to step in to prevent Evergrande from going under.

In addition, a new Delta outbreak in China has raised fear about the effect on the recovery in the world's number two economy, which remains a key driver of global growth.

Key figures around 1100 GMT

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.6 percent at 6,850.79 points

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 2.3 percent at 15,131.55

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 2.2 percent at 6,423.99

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 2.3 percent at 4,036.78

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 3.3 percent at 24,099.14 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for a holiday

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 34,584.88 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1715 from $1.1725 on Friday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3691 from $1.3741

Euro/pound: UP at 85.53 pence from 85.33 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.54 yen from 109.71 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.7 percent at $74.08 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 2.0 percent at $70.54 per barrel

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