Asian stocks sank on Thursday after Japan announced that exports had fallen for the fifth straight month in July and weak forecasts in the US fed fears of a second recession.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.4% to 9,019.52 after the finance ministry said exports fell 3.3% from a year earlier to 5.78 trillion yen ($75.6 billion). The downturn was largely due to the strengthening yen and the ongoing impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
South Korea's benchmark Kospi index lost 1.1% to 1,871.29. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.8% to 4,271.50.
Wall Street stocks posted modest gains on Wednesday after companies reported higher earnings. But economic growth is weak around the world, and some economists worry that a second recession may be coming.
While Dell Inc. reported earnings for last quarter that were above expectations, it cut its prediction for revenue growth this year. Technology stocks on the S&P 500 fell 0.8% after Dell cut its forecast.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 4.28 points to 11,410.21. The S&P 500 rose 0.1% to 1,193.89. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.5% to 2,511.48.
Investors are also worried about Europe. Some countries have borrowed so much that they may not be able to repay their bonds, and economic growth there has slowed. Concerns about a possible default by a European country have dominated the market in recent weeks, along with worries about the slow US economy.