Japan’s stocks led falls across Asia on Tuesday, posting their biggest drop in nearly 10 months, as investors worried about falling oil prices and political turmoil in Greece.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 3% at 16,883.19 points – its worst day since March.
The US oil price fell below the symbolic threshold of $50 a barrel for the first time since April 2009.
Meanwhile in London, Brent crude fell as low as $53 a barrel.
That prompted energy shares to fall.
Concerns over Greece’s future also weighed on the euro, which slid to a nine-year low against the dollar.
Chinese shares recovered earlier losses after a private survey showed the country’s services sector grew at its fastest pace in three months in December.
The Shanghai Composite ended up closing flat at 3,351.45 after falling as much as 1.3% earlier in the day.
In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng index finished down 1% to 23,485.41, following the global trend.
In Australia, investors also reacted to falling oil prices and eurozone worries, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closing down 1.57% at 5,364.80 points. Earlier in the day, the index was down as much as 1.9% – one of its biggest falls in more than a month.
One company’s shares saw a positive reaction to falling oil prices, however, with Qantas, Australia’s national airline, seeing its share price at a four-year high during the Tuesday session.
Australia’s latest trade figures showed the country’s deficit widening in November from October to about 950m Australian dollars ($770m). It is the eighth trade deficit in a row.