Concerns about the wavering fitness of the U.S. economy spooked Asian markets Wednesday with most major indices broadly lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 was falling 501.95 points, or 2.9%, to 16,676.89, the biggest drop since March 5, when the index fell 575.68 points to 16,642.25.
The broad-market Topix index also dropped 2.9%, or 50.49 points, to 1,674.94. Exporter
led the decline with a 3.2% drop, while
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 2.8% to 18,791.36 in midafternoon trading. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, which tracks Hong Kong-listed shares of companies operating on mainland China, was down 3.4% to 8,950.97.
Subprime lending strife, a report from the Commerce Department on retail sales data Tuesday that came in lower than expected, and tech malaise drove down U.S. stocks Tuesday, with the selling approaching the levels of those during the disastrous week of Feb. 26.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 ended 2.1% lower, and in Korea the Kospi was down 2%. Singapore's Straits Times Index fell 3.3%; Taiwan's Weighted Price Index was down 1.5%; China's Shanghai Composite Index declined 2%; and Thailand's SET Index was down 0.4%. India's Bombay Sensex was dropping 3.2% in afternoon trading.