Asian stock markets resumed their downward slide on Monday, led by a 12 per cent plunge in the Philippines, as government rescue measures failed to ease fears that a global recession would be even worse than expected.
Investors were hesitant to wade back into equities, worried a stream of economic data from the U.S. this week could bring more bearish news about the world's largest economy and trigger another round of selling, analysts said.
"Investors aren't totally convinced the worst is over yet," said Alex Tang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi in Hong Kong. "We're probably moving sideways this week and will see more volatility."
Japanese shares, after trading higher in the morning, retreated 5 percent to 7,266.83. The country's prime minister urged officials to draw up measures to calm volatile stock markets and to fend off further fallout from the crisis.
In South Korea, the Kospi skidded 3.4 percent even as the country's central bank slashed its key interest rate, by 0.75 percent, for the second time this month in a bid to boost the economy and reverse the market's recent slide.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index pulled back 4.2 percent and Australia's key stock measure lost 1.6 percent.
The Philippine stock market's key index plummeted 12.3 percent, to 1,713.83 points, steep losses that triggered a circuit-breaker that automatically halted trading for 15 minutes. The biggest one-day drop since February 2007 was caused by "big fund players" withdrawing investments to get cash and meet redemptions at home, traders said.
"This is the loss of confidence in the market," said Emmanuel Soller, broker at EquitiWorld Securities Inc. "Our fundamentals were ignored; we followed the U.S. But I believe there was an overreaction by investors."
Tuesday's U.S. Federal Reserve meeting was more cause for caution. The central bank is expected to lower interest rates by at least a half-point to 1 percent, though the rate reduction is already priced into the market and unlikely to calm its restlessness.
On Friday on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 312.30, or 3.59 percent, to 8,378.95. By Monday morning, stock index futures were down, signaled a moderately lower open, with Dow futures down 82 points, or 1 percent, at 8,179. S&P and Nasdaq futures were also lower by about 1.5 percent.
In Japan, stocks fell despite a report that the government was considering massive capital injection into struggling banks in a bid to calm jittery financial markets.
"The reported plan by the government hardly cheered investors. What the market really wants is a package of stimulus measures to boost the Japanese economy," said Kazuki Miyazawa, market analyst at Daiwa Securities SMBC Co. Ltd.
Citing unidentified sources, the Yomiuri newspaper said Monday the government is considering injecting public money worth 10 trillion yen ($108 billion) into struggling banks in a bid to stabilize the financial market hit by sagging stocks and a soaring yen.
The yen, meanwhile, hovered near 13-year highs. The dollar stood at 93.50 yen in Tokyo on Monday morning, compared with 94.24 yen late Friday in New York. At one point, it fell as low as 91.88 yen. On Friday, the dollar hit the 90-yen level, the lowest since August 1995.
Financial ministers and central bank presidents of the Group of Seven major industrial countries issued a joint statement expressing concern about the recent volatility of the yen.
"We are concerned about the recent excessive volatility in the exchange rate of the yen and its possible adverse implications for economic and financial stability," the G-7 finance officials said in a statement released in Washington, Tokyo and other G-7 capitals. In oil, crude prices was steady at $64.14 a barrel after OPEC's move to cut production in an attempt to halt the declines. Light, sweet crude for December delivery was down 2 cents to $64.13 a barrel in Asian trade. The contract settled at $64.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday.
AP reporter Tomoko A. Hosaka contributed to this report from Tokyo.