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Asian Markets Update: Stocks Plunge Across the Region

Trading in Japan may halt as the Nikkei flirts with a 1500-point drop.

TOKYO-- Nice way to start the week. With a free-fall in U.S. equities that saw the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

drop 5.6% and the

Nasdaq Composite

9.7%, could Asia have expected anything other than plunging prices?

With most major Asian bourses bar Hong Kong open, trading was fast, furious and unforgiving. The

Nikkei 225

was down 6.8%, the

Topix

index, which includes all shares listed on the

Tokyo Stock Exchange's

first section was also down 6.8%, while the

Jasdaq

small-cap index is down 10.8%. Singapore's

Straits Times

TheStreet Recommends

index was down 6.5%, Korea's

Kospi

index was down 8.6% but at one point was down 11%, while Australia's

All Ordinaries

was down 5.6%.

New York's traders may have said they didn't feel panic in the market Friday, but that wasn't the case in Asia. Although the Nikkei 255 looked like it had tapered off at around 19,400 mid-morning, the selling in key technology and telecom shares from domestic dealers quickly extended itself into retail selling.

Sony

(SNE) - Get Sony Corp. Report

was down 11.8%,

NTT DoCoMo

(NMCNY)

was down 8.0%, while

Softbank

had yet to trade due to a wide imbalance of bids and offers.

The Nikkei 225, down 1497 points, looks like it will halt trading for the day soon. The TSE stops trading if the index goes down by 1500 points.

Korea's Kospi index broke two records in one day: Its worst ever point and percentage drop. With almost 40% of market volume coming from online and day traders, Korean markets are hit hard as investors get margin calls, traders said.