LONDON  - European equities fell further on Thursday after more sharp losses on Wall Street and in Asia, as investors recoiled over oil prices which surged to record heights above 146 dollars a barrel. Investors in Europe were also on edge ahead of an interest rate decision from the European Central Bank, which was widely forecast to lift eurozone borrowing costs to 4.25 percent. A decision was due at 1145 GMT. Key US employment figures were also due on Thursday amid fears about the health of the world's largest economy. "It's certainly going to be a big day for equity markets with last night's close on Wall Street and bumper oil prices both weighing," said CMC Markets analyst Paul Webb. Frankfurt, London and Paris nursed losses of about three quarters of a percent in late morning European trade as the cost of crude continued to fly higher. Wall Street had tumbled on Wednesday in extremely volatile trade as oil raced to record highs above 144 dollars, triggering fresh economic jitters. On Thursday, investors remained on tenterhooks as oil surged to new records. London's Brent North Sea oil for August delivery scored a life-time peak of 146.69 dollars and New York's light sweet crude reached a historic 145.85 dollars. High crude oil prices weigh on inflation and bite into most companies' profits. They also raise investor concerns because they hamper global economic growth, analysts argue. In Asia on Thursday, Tokyo shares fell for an 11th straight session, the longest losing streak in half a century, on worries about oil and the health of the global economy, dealers said. Hong Kong dived 2.13pc, Shanghai shed 1.95pc and Mumbai shares plunged 4.18 percent. The Jakarta market slumped 3.9 percent and Bangkok shed 2.35 percent, while Singapore weakened by 0.89 percent. "The record price of oil undermined equities ... with the main indices all showing losses amid concerns that new record high oil prices are driving up costs and curbing spending," said ABN Amro analyst Melinda Smith. "US equities closed down almost 2.0pc on the back of a slump of steel and coal stocks, with the Dow now officially in a bear market, having closed down over 20pc below its Oct 2007 peak." On Wednesday, New York's blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 1.46 percent to 11,215.51 points, while the Standard and Poor's 500 broad-market index lost 1.82 percent. Smith added: "Overall, sentiment is clearly very negative and the world has become distinctly bearish." Global oil prices have doubled in the past 12 months, fuelling higher inflation and preventing many central banks from cutting interest rates despite slowing economic growth amid the ongoing global credit crunch. The ECB was widely expected to lift its key lending rates on Thursday owing to record high eurozone inflation. Higher borrowing costs are also a worry for investors because they lift company loan repayments, erode profits and cut consumers' disposable incomes. "With inflation pressures so stark at the moment, central banks are finding it impossible to ease rates any further, or at all " in the case of the ECB we expect it to hike rates " so there is little (economic) stimulus coming through in terms of monetary policy," said Investec economist David Page. On Thursday, the Swedish central bank raised its key interest rate by a quarter of a point to 4.50 percent to contain inflation " and signalled further increases to come later this year. Analysts said an ECB rate hike would likely weaken the dollar against the euro and help fuel rising oil prices. The falling US currency encourages demand for US-priced commodities which become cheaper for foreign buyers.