Asian stock markets fell Friday as jitters mounted over China's manufacturing slowdown and a deepening economic malaise in Europe.
Benchmark oil hovered above $105 per barrel after a big fall the day before. The dollar weakened against the euro but rose against the yen.
It was the second day in a row that markets were jolted by an index released on Thursday that showed renewed weakness in China's manufacturing. The gauge compiled by HSBC fell to 48.1 in March from 49.6 in February. Figures below 50 indicate that manufacturing is shrinking.
That data comes on top of trade figures showing both Chinese and global demand falling. Weak European economic indicators added to worries about a slowdown.
"The market is disappointed that China's manufacturing sector is shrinking, so we are seeing the start of a major correction," said Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong.
The lack of bold reaction from China's government is causing investor unease, analysts said. The government has indicated it favors a pro-growth policy but so far has not aggressively reduced reserve requirements for banks on a national scale or lowered interest rates.
"China hasn't done anything to inject confidence in the market," said Jackson Wong, vice president at Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong. "That is dragging down the whole market in Hong Kong and other areas. So now we wait to see if China will roll out some bold moves."
Japan's Nikkei 225 index dropped 1 percent to 10,022.68 as the country's formidable export sector faded amid fears of slowing overseas demand.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1 percent to 20,699.71 while South Korea's Kospi slipped marginally to 2,025.30.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell less nearly 0.1 percent to 4,270.20 as the country's mining and resource shares took a pounding over worries of reduced demand from China, the world's biggest consumer of raw materials.
BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, lost 1.2 percent in Sydney. Steel makers also took a hit. South Korea's POSCO lost 0.5 percent while Japan's JFE Holdings dropped 2.2 percent.
Worries about China's deceleration were compounded by a survey Thursday showing slower growth in Europe. An index of economic activity from financial information company Markit fell to 48.8 in March from 49.3 a month earlier. The index combines services and manufacturing.
Japanese exporters whose fortunes are closely linked with European demand came under pressure. Honda Motor Corp. lost 2.6 percent and Yamaha Motor Co. shed 2.8 percent. Sharp Corp. slid 3.1 percent and Sony Corp. tumbled 3.3 percent.
A rare gainer was Japanese food processor Yukiguni Maitake Co., which rose 0.6 percent a day after announcing a study showed that maitake mushrooms might help fight obesity, Kyodo News reported.
Benchmark oil for May delivery was up 14 cents to $105.49 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.92 to finish at $105.35 per barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3203 from $1.3181 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 82.75 yen from 82.59 yen.