Sydney: Asian shares dived on Thursday as hundreds of billions of dollars haemorrhaged from global markets after a rout in tech stocks inflicted the largest daily decline on Wall Street since 2011, wiping out all its gains for the year.
MSCI`s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan skidded about 2 percent. Japan`s Nikkei tumbled 3.5 percent to a six-month trough while Australian shares hit a more than one-year low.
Tokyo`s Topix index tumbled 3 percent, evaporating more than $155 billion in market value. Chinese shares opened in the red too with the blue-chip SSE Composite index plummeting 2.5 percent. Hong Kong`s Hang Seng index sank 2.2 percent.
The dive in formerly high-flying U.S. tech stocks sent investors scampering to the safety of sovereign bonds, with yields in 10-year Treasuries falling the most since May to 3.11 percent.
"Weak U.S. housing data, mixed corporate earnings results, trade war fears and concerns regarding a slowing global economy all contributed to the sell off," Sydney-based Rivkin Securities said in a note to clients.
"Investor sentiment remains cautious as we anticipate the reports of over 100 S&P 500 companies including Amazon, Alphabet and Comcast."
Weak readings on manufacturing in Europe added to angst over world growth, as did a surprise slump in U.S. home sales, which suggested rising mortgage rates were sapping demand for housing.
Adding to the air of tension, police intercepted suspected bombs mailed to former U.S. President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other high-profile Democrats, as well as to CNN, in what New York officials branded an act of terrorism.
The growing international pressure on Saudi Arabia over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi also weighed on investor sentiment.
On Wall Street, disappointing forecasts from chipmakers hammered the tech sector. They followed weaker-than-expected forecasts on Tuesday from industrial giants Caterpillar and 3M.
The Nasdaq closed down 12.4 percent from its Aug. 29 record closing high, falling 4.4 percent for the day in its biggest one-day percentage decline since Aug. 18, 2011.
In dollar terms, the Nasdaq vaporised $524 billion in market capitalisation overnight.
The Dow fell 2.41 percent and the S&P 500 lost 3.09 percent.
According to data analysed by Reuters, the proportion of stocks, regions and sectors that are technically in a bear market has shot up since the start of January, prompting some analysts to conclude the bull run may already be over.
Citi has lowered its global growth forecast for both 2019 and 2020 by 0.1 percentage point each to 3.2 percent and 3 percent, respectively, it said in a note Thursday, citing policy tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
"Over the next year, bouts of financial market turbulence are likely to worsen," Citi economist Catherine Mann said, "as gaps between market expectations of policy rate hikes and the median dot plot close."
In foreign exchange markets, client participation on both spot and options was fairly light, Citi noted in a separate note.
Funds flowed to the U.S. dollar and Treasuries and out of the euro and the British pound.
The euro shed 0.7 percent to $1.1397 and breached a major chart bulwark at $1.1430. It was last up 0.1 percent at $1.1407.
Against a basket of currencies, the dollar eased from near a nine-week peak to 96.267.
Sterling hit a seven-week trough $1.2865, having dropped 0.8 percent overnight. It was last a shade higher at $1.2892.
The yen got the usual safe-haven bid, with the euro skidding to a two-month low at 127.68 yen. Even the high-flying dollar eased to 112 yen.
Oil prices slipped amid concerns over global growth.
Brent crude fell 69 cents to $75.48 a barrel, while U.S. crude dropped 54 cents to $66.28.
Spot gold was a tad firmer at $1,236.52 an ounce.