A massive sell-off in Asian stock markets on Thursday erased the previous day's strong gains after Wall Street fell on minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting as worries mount the United States could stop or cut its monetary stimulus program.
"The pessimism about quantitative easing ending sooner than expected is likely to drift across Asia today. Although in reality, asset-buying is likely to continue throughout 2013, traders didn't take kindly to concerns over its huge costs," remarked Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets in a note.
Even as Asian shares posted hefty losses, most of the major markets remain near lofty levels. Japan's Nikkei and Australia's benchmark are trading at their highest in more than one-and-a-half years, while South Korea's KOSPI remains above the 2,000-mark, within reach of a seven-week high.
The Shanghai Composite however, is headed for a 1.5 percent weekly loss as it retreats from a 9-month high hit earlier this week.