Monkeys threw a wrench into Asian markets in the Lunar New Year's first week of trading, with sharp sell-offs in Japan, Singapore, and Down Under on Wednesday.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 lost 56.37 points, or 1.17 percent, to close at 4,775.70, extending Tuesday's 2.88 percent drop. The market was weighed by the energy, materials and financial sectors, which shed 1.32, 1.46 and 0.71 percent respectively. The main index closed down 20.17 percent from its 52-week closing high in April 2015, pushing it into bear market territory.
Japanese shares continued to tumble, with the Nikkei 225 dropping 372.05 points, or 2.31 percent, to close at 15,713.39, following a 5.4 percent decline on Tuesday, as banking and commodities stocks continued to get hammered. The index, which has closed in the red for six of the past seven sessions, is down 24.70 percent from its 52-week high set June 2015.
Singapore's Straits Times index, which resumed trading after being shut Monday and Tuesday for the Lunar New Year holidays at the start of the Year of the Monkey, retraced some losses to trade down 2 percent. In early trade, the index was down as much as 2.75 percent. Malaysia's market, which also reopened Wednesday, fell, with the KLCI dropping 0.73 percent, while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite was off by 0.69 percent.
Hong Kong and South Korea will resume trading on Thursday. Mainland Chinese markets and Taiwan will be closed for the week.
Singapore's DBS Bank said in a morning note that while China's markets remain closed, risk aversion is still heightened due to sell-offs in other parts of the world.
The note said, "It remains to be seen if this bout of risk aversion would have any impact on the real economy. For now, the market thinks that global growth and inflation is lacking. In addition, uncertainties on the Chinese economy weigh. The market is looking at less than one hike from the Fed this year, down from two to three hikes just six weeks ago."