Japanese stocks fell sharply on Monday, as heightened fears about the financial sector and fate of the global economy sent the benchmark index tumbling nearly 4%.
The Nikkei 225 stock average plunged 288.27 points, or 3.8%, to 7,280.15. The broader Topix fell 2.9% to 734.59.
The Australian stock market shed 2.8% to close at its lowest level in more than five years, following heavy falls in the banking and the big mining sectors.
At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 94.4 points, or 2.82% lower at 3250.1 - its lowest level since 19 December 2003.
The broader All Ordinaries shed 93.1 points, or 2.82% to 3203.8, and its lowest level since 11 December 2003.
In New Zealand, the benchmark index fell 41 points, or 1.62%, to close at 2481 on turnover of $65 million.
Contact Energy was down 24 cents to $5.71 after opening a $300 milllion bond offer. Telecom fell 12c to $2.30, while Fletcher Building was down 1c at $5.23.