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Europe bears the brunt Add to ...

It looks as though Europe -- heart of the European debt crisis, natch -- is on track to take the biggest hit on Monday. While Japan and Hong Kong benchmark indexes fell 2.2 per cent each in overnight trading and the S&P 500 is down 3.4 per cent in early afternoon trading, Europe looks considerably more messy.

France's CAC 40 index closed down 4.7 per cent. Germany's DAX index fell 5 per cent and the Swiss market index fell 4 per cent.

The year-to-date losses in Europe also make North American losses look like flesh wounds by comparison. The S&P 500 has fallen all of 7.9 per cent in 2011, but most European indexes have felt at least double the pain: The Dax is down 14 per cent and the Swiss index is down 22.8 per cent.

Yet another reason to look beyond the U.S. credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor's as a source for Monday's turbulence and focus on other issues -- like the economy.

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