BANGKOK - World stocks extended a sell-off Tuesday, dogged by signs Europe's debt problems are getting grimmer even as officials promised more help for Greece at the epicenter of the crisis.
Benchmark oil fell below $77 per barrel while the dollar rose against the euro and the yen.
European shares were sharply down in early trading. Britain's FTSE slid 2.7 per cent to 4,936.76. Germany's DAX dropped 3.1 per cent to 5,212.76 and France's CAC-40 tumbled 3.2 per cent to 2,833.45. Wall Street also appeared headed for another session of losses, with Dow Jones industrial futures down 0.7 per cent to 10,451. Broader S&P 500 futures fell 0.7 per cent to 1,078.40.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.1 per cent to close at 8,456.12. South Korea's Kospi plunged 3.6 per cent to 1,706.19 after being closed Monday for a holiday, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng sank 3.4 per cent to 16,250.27.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.6 per cent to 3,872.10. Benchmarks in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia were also lower. Markets in mainland China were closed for a holiday. Shares in Taiwan and New Zealand rose.
European markets tumbled Monday after Greece said it wouldn't be able to reduce its budget deficits as much as it had agreed to as part of a deal to receive more emergency loans. Fears have been growing that Greece, despite billions of euros in rescue loans, will eventually have to default on its massive debts.
Officials indicated early Tuesday that Greece will get a loan installment it needs to keep paying its bills, though not as soon as Greece says it needs it.
Todd Martin, Asia equity strategist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong, said the sell-off in Asia was not as aggressive as the rout on Monday. He said investors should be on the lookout for bargains among oversold stocks
"We are seeing buyers stepping in, for example, the Macau plays in Hong Kong, which were very aggressively shorted by the hedge fund community over the last couple of days," Martin said, referring to the recent, sharp retreat in Hong Kong-listed gaming shares. "But on the whole," he said, "the market is in a state of fear at the moment."
Markets have responded nervously to headlines out of Europe for weeks, fearful that a Greece default could lead to a lockup in the global financial system, similar to the one triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008.
Fears of such a crisis sent Asian banking shares lower. In South Korea, Woori Finance Holdings Co. plunged 5.1 per cent while KB Financial Group lost 3.1 per cent. Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group was down 3.8 per cent. Bank of China Ltd. fell 3.5 per cent in Hong Kong.
A persistently strong yen and signs of a global economic slowdown continued to haunt Japanese export shares. Honda Motor Corp. fell 2.8 per cent, and Mazda Motor Corp. shed 4 per cent. Office equipment maker Canon Inc. shed 2.6 per cent.
Energy shares tumbled on the back of declining oil prices. Japanese energy explorer Inpex Corp. lost 3.6 per cent, and Hong Kong-listed China National Offshore Oil Corp. fell 6.7 per cent. Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. declined 5 per cent.
Gold prices rose as investors scooped up the precious metal that, in turbulent times, is viewed as relatively stable store of value. That pushed up gold-related shares like Newcrest Mining, Australia's top gold miner, by 1 per cent.
The latest setback in Greece's financial crisis sent major U.S. stock market indexes to lows for the year Monday. The S&P 500 lost 2.9 per cent to 1,099.23. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.4 per cent to 10,655.30. The Nasdaq composite slid 3.3 per cent to 2,335.83.
Traders will look for clues as to the state of the world's largest economy later Tuesday, when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Joint Economic Committee in Washington.
Meanwhile, the price of oil continued its descent. Benchmark crude for November delivery was down $1.62 to $75.99 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.59, or 2 per cent, to close Monday at $77.61 per barrel in New York.
In currency trading, the euro fell to $1.3157 from $1.3198 late Monday in New York. The dollar rose to 76.66 yen from 76.52 yen.