HONG KONG- Asian markets extended the week’s losses on Friday, following a heavy sell-off in New York and Europe in reaction to another batch of poor Chinese data and flaring tensions in Ukraine.
Traders scurried into lower-risk assets such as the yen owing to growing economic uncertainty and geopolitical fears.
Tokyo slumped 3.30 percent, or 488.32 points, to 14,327.66, Seoul fell 0.75 percent, or 14.48 points, to 1,919.90 and Sydney gave up 1.54 percent, or 83.2 points, to close at 5,329.4.
Shanghai lost 0.73 percent, or 14.77 points, to 2,004.34 while Hong Kong closed 1.00 percent lower, shedding 216.59 points to 21,539.49.
Apart from mild bargain-buying gains on Tuesday and Thursday, regional shares have been in a downward spiral this week since China said at the weekend it had seen a surprise trade deficit in February and exports had slumped.
The selling was fanned on Thursday when Beijing released fresh figures showing industrial production rose at its slowest pace in five years in January and February, while consumer spending saw its weakest increase for three years.
With China — a crucial driver of global growth — releasing a series of downbeat economic data, investors are shifting into safer investments, predominantly hitting equities.
The main markets in London, Frankfurt and Paris all suffered heavy losses and Wall Street followed, with the Dow sinking 1.41 percent, the S&P 500 losing 1.17 percent and the Nasdaq 1.46 percent lower.
The US losses came despite unemployment benefits claims tumbling last week to their the lowest level in more than three months, while retail sales saw their first gain in February after two successive declines.
The yen, considered a safe haven, surged against the dollar in New York on Thursday, which in turn hit Japanese shares.