Asia's slide extended a global sell-off the began Wednesday and accelerated overnight amid lowered projections for economic activity next year from the U.S. Federal Reserve and worries over the fate of America's Big Three automakers, which are pleading for emergency loans from Washington.
"We've gone past the poor sentiment stage," said Miles Remington, head of Asian sales trading at BNP Paribas Securities in Hong Kong.
"People are looking for any kind of positive and there are just no positives out there. Everyone seems to be united in the depressed global outlook. Whether its commodities or equities, everything seems to be on a downturn," he said.
Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 average lost 391 points, or 4.7 percent to 7,882 as Japan posted its second trade deficit in three months on plummeting demand for the nation's exports. Earlier this week, figures showed Japan had slid into a recession in the third quarter, joining Hong Kong and the euro-zone in posting two straight quarters of economic contraction.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index sank 686 points, or 4.54 percent, to 12,234.30. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 3.2 percent as weakening commodity prices dragged down the country's resource giants like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.
In New York overnight, the Dow gave up 427.47 points, or 5.07 percent, to 7,997.28 and the S&P 500 slipped 52.54 points, or 6.12 percent, to 806.58. Both closed at their lowest levels since March 2003, and are rapidly approaching the lows of the 2000 to 2002 bear market.
Oil prices continued to fall. Light, sweet crude for December delivery lost 81 cents to $52.81 a barrel in Asian trade.
Overnight, the contract retreated 77 cents to settle at $53.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In currencies, the dollar weaken to 95.65 from 95.88 and traded at 1.251 against the euro.
In Europe Wednesday, Britain's FTSE 100 slid 4.8 percent, Germany's DAX fell 4.9 percent and France's CAC-40 was off4.0 percent.