For the second time in a week, Asian markets followed a swoon on Wall Street, with Shanghai and Hong Kong taking the biggest hit.
Shanghai's SE Composite Index was off 4.5 percent at 3,129.85; Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 3.1 percent to 29,507.42 and Japan's Nikkei 225 lost more than 2 percent.
"The sell-off followed a robust rally in China's stock market earlier this year, which is now unwinding ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays starting next week, as investors lock in profits, said Kevin Leung, global investment strategy director at Haitong international Securities.
"The earlier gains were due to very persistent inflow into Asia emerging equities for 'a long time,' particularly 'large and euphoric inflows' driving valuations up, said Jonathan Garner, Morgan Stanley's chief Asia and emerging equity strategist."
The Asian sell-off follows a 1,033-point plunge for the Dow Jones industrial average, which sliced 4 percent from the index Thursday to close at 23,860. That followed an even larger, one-day record fall of 1,175 points on Monday.
As NPR's John Ydstie reports:
"Wall Street has been on a roller coaster ride. On Tuesday, the market regained close to half of its deep Monday loss, but on Wednesday, the market ended down again.
At Thursday's opening bell, it bounced from positive to negative, then headed down sharply."