Asian equities plunge as Greece weighs on sentiment

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Stock markets in China continued to head south amid volatile trade on Monday, with investors shrugging off fresh easing from the People's Bank of China's (PBOC) over the weekend. Elsewhere in the region, equities witnessed a huge selloff after Greece failed to clinch a deal with its international lenders over the weekend.

Greece desperately needs emergency funding to repay its loans by June 30 and the debt-stricken nation is now headed for a bailout referendum on July 5, authorized by Greek lawmakers over the weekend. A yes vote will mean that Greeks are willing accept the latest bailout terms offered by creditors to Athens, while a rejection will likely increase Greece's chances of exiting the Eurozone.

According to Reuters, Greek government officials have confirmed early Monday that banks will be closed until July 6, while ATMs will reopen later in the day with a daily withdrawal limit of 60 euros.

Read MoreGreece, China in spotlight after drama-filled weekend

In Asian trade, the euro fell as low as $1.0953, touching a one-month low, while dollar-yen dropped as much as 1 percent to 122.64.

Meanwhile, U.S. stock index futures opened down 1.6 percent as chances of a Greek default heightened.

On Friday, Wall Street finished mixed, with the blue-chip Dow edging up 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 ending flat. The Nasdaq Composite led losses with a 0.6 percent fall.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Mainland markets fall

Despite the PBOC unveiling a bigger-than-expected easing package over the weekend, the correction in China's Shanghai Composite index showed no signs of braking, with the Shanghai bourse closing down 3.3 percent at its lowest level since April 16.

The PBOC lowered its benchmark lending rates by 25 basis points to 4.85 percent and reduced one-year benchmark deposit rates by 25 basis points to 2 percent on Saturday. The rate cuts come on the back of a drastic 7.4 percent plunge on Friday, which saw the Shanghai Composite nursing its worst single-day loss since January 19. For the past two weeks, the index has fallen more than 20 percent.

"We haven't seen [such easing] since the crisis in 2008 [and] this opens up a lot of room to support the market. This came on the back of broad issues revolving the fundamentals in the economy and a 20 percent correction in the stock market," Neeraj Seth, head of Asian Credit at BlackRock, told CNBC. "These are clear signs that the government is serious about the economy and stock market stability."

However, Monday's slump showed the Chinese central bank has failed to remedy the stock market fluctuations.

"It appears that the forced clearance of leverage accounts continued to be the dominant driver of the market at the moment. If the meltdown continues at the current pace, which could trigger systemic instability, we would expect further stabilizing measures from the government," wrote Aidan Yao, senior emerging market economist at AXA Investment Managers, citing the examples of asking institutions to halt the squaring of leverage accounts, and allowing state-owned investment funds to invest more in the equity market.

Read MoreBears ignore PBOC to maul China stocks

In Hong Kong, Legend Holdings, parent of computer maker Lenovo Group, reversed direction to close down modestly in its market debut. The initial public offering (IPO) worth about $2 billion would be the largest IPO in Hong Kong since Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties raised $4.04 last December.

Despite the lackluster debut, Dickie Wong, executive director of Kingston Securities, told CNBC the move was in line with his expectations. "I didn't expect much upside on its first debut. [Despite the worries over Greece,] I think thy picked a good day today [because] if they had listed last week like Thursday or Friday, it could have been worse," Wong told CNBC.

Shares of Lenovo Group plunged nearly 6 percent. Meanwhile, the Hang Seng index shaved off 2.6 percent to end at its lowest level since April 8.

PBOC will be worried about Monday's selloff: Pro
PBOC will be worried about Monday's selloff: Pro   

Nikkei skids 2.9%

Japan's Nikkei 225 index touched a more than one-week trough as the yen gained ground against a weaker dollar.

A mixed bag of domestic data also weighed on sentiment. Released before the market open, Japan's industrial production fell 2.2 percent in May, wider than a Reuters' estimate for a 0.8 percent fall and marking the fastest pace of decline in three months. Meanwhile, retail sales rose 3.0 percent on-year last month, versus the estimate of a 2.3 percent increase in a Reuters poll of economists.

Decliners were led by exporters, banks and brokerage houses. Within the currency-dependent export sector, carmakers such as Suzuki Motor lost 4.3 percent, while Toyota Motor and Honda shaved off more than 2 percent, respectively.

Financials such as Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group receded more than 3 percent each, while Nomura Holdings lost 2 percent.

A nearly 3 percent decline in the heavyweight components such as Fast Retailing and Fanuc also weighed on the bourse.

Nikkei's fall is just a knee-jerk reaction: Pro
Nikkei's fall is just a knee-jerk reaction: Pro   

ASX loses 2.2%

Sharp losses among banking and resources heavyweights took Australia's S&P ASX 200 index down to its lowest level since January 23.

Market bellwether BHP Billiton fell 2 percent, while all of the four major lenders plummeted between 2.3 to 3.1 percent.

Energy producers also headed south, in tandem with lower oil prices. Woodside Petroleum and Santos closed down 2.4 and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Outperforming the bourse, Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining elevated 3.9 and 1.2 percent, respectively, after spot gold got a boost from the negative developments in Greece's debt negotiations.

Kospi tanks 1.4%

South Korea's key Kospi index finished at a one-week low amid a broad-based selloff.

Among the biggest losers, brokerage houses such as Samsung Securities doubled losses to end down 7.5 percent. Oil producers like SK Innovation and S-Oil also widened declines to 5.1 and 7.2 percent, respectively, as crude oil prices continue to spiral lower in Asian trade.

Within the technology sector, LG Electronics tumbled 4.8 percent to 47,150 won, hitting the lowest in nearly 11 years.

Emerging Asia down

Risk-off sentiment prevailed in emerging Asia markets on Monday, with Malaysian shares taking the worst hit to touch its lowest levels since December 18. The benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI index was last seen 1 percent lower.

Across Southeast Asia, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite retreated 1.2 percent to a near one-week trough, while Thailand's SET index lost 1.1 percent to touch its lowest level in nearly 2 weeks.

In India, the benchmark BSE Sensex and 50-share Nifty index fell 2 percent each.