Asian markets lost ground as growth concerns weighed following disappointing economic reports from China and the U.S.
Japan’s Nikkei led the declines – the index was down 2.1% as the yen grew stronger against the U.S. dollar and the euro.
Australia’s All Ordinaries pared earlier losses and edged up 0.1% at close on account of some earnings results.
Elsewhere, investors took risk off the table in the Asian session, following overnight losses on Wall Street after data showed U.S. housing starts logged their worst drop in almost three years in January.
Global growth concerns deepened after the HSBC flash China manufacturing purchasing managers’ index for February came in lower than expected. According to the report, industrial activity was at its weakest level in seven months.
Stocks on the Move
Exporters in Tokyo dipped into the red on account of the yen's strength. In a risk-averse session, investors usually flock to safer assets like gold, bonds or currencies perceived to be relatively safer, like the yen.
Komtasu Ltd. lost 3.2%, Mazda Motor Corp. reversed 3% and Toshiba was down 2%.
Financials, retailers, realty players and shipping companies were under equal selling pressure amid global growth woes.
In Hong Kong, metal players were trading weak following the dismal Chinese data. Jiangxi Copper gave up 2.3% and Zijin Mining Group erased 2.8%.
Financials logged heavy losses too -- largest lender ICBC slid 2.9%, Agricultural Bank retreated nearly 3% too while Bank of Communications erased 2.7%.
Oil stocks, however, were among the rare gainers in Hong Kong. China Petroleum soared 9.4% after the refiner said it plans to sell around 30% of its oil retail unit to private investors.
Others gained ground too -- Sinopec Shanghai enhanced 5.3% while PetroChina added 2.4%.
Some corporate earnings were in focus in Sydney. Fairfax Media soared 23% while AMP Ltd. bounced 8% after announcing results.
Leighton Holdings Ltd. jumped 5% on heels of upbeat results.
Magellan Financial Group pared earlier gains but ended flat despite posting a 137% hike in half-year adjusted profit.
PanAust tumbled 5% while Sandfire Resources was 1.4% lower after posting lower than estimated results.
Origin Energy fell 2% after the energy company posted a decline in its first-half profit.
In Mumbai, stocks pushed lower at open tracking weakness in global sentiment.
Top losers on the benchmark index were ICICI Bank, down 2.2%; Bharti Airtel, down 2%, SBI down 1.8% and Tata Steel, down 1.8% as well.