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 / Updated  / Source: Associated Press

TOKYO — Shares tumbled in Asia on Tuesday after a wild day for U.S. markets that resulted in the biggest drop in the Dow Jones industrial average in six and a half years.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index skidded 7.1 percent by early Tuesday afternoon but was trading down 6.6 percent a bit later. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 5.0 percent and Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 slid 3.4 percent. South Korea's Kospi declined 2.4 percent and the Shanghai Composite index was off 2.2 percent.

All other regional markets were lower.

A man walks past a monitor showing stock movements at the Taiwan Stock Exchange in Taipei on Tuesday.Sam Yeh / AFP - Getty Images

The losses in Asia tracked the Dow's 1,175 point plunge on Monday, its worst point drop of all time and its worst percentage decline since August 2011.

Two days of steep losses have erased the U.S. market's gains from the start of this year, ending a spate of record-setting calm for stocks.

Market pros have been predicting a pullback for some time, noting that declines of 10 percent or more are common during bull markets. There hasn't been one in two years, and by many measures stocks had been looking expensive.

The same is true of many global markets, where investors have been bracing for a correction while hoping not to see one.

"There would be few places to hide from the risk-off atmosphere that is expected to extend its stay in Asian markets today in a significant manner," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. "This is fear rolling over itself," she said.

Panic in other markets can send investors racing for the "safe haven" of Japanese yen holdings, she noted. That is painful for Japanese and other regional export manufacturers, whose competitiveness is hurt by stronger currencies that push their prices relatively higher.

Japanese officials sought to downplay the losses.

"The economy has had record high corporate earnings and improving wages and labor conditions. Consumer spending is also recovering and so the Japanese economy is stable," said Toshimitsu Motegi, the economy minister. "As for market movements, I will watch closely for any impact on the economy."

The U.S. dollar weakened to 108.77 yen, down from 109.12 on Monday. The euro edged lower to $1.2365 from $1.2369.

After the market's big gains in 2017 and early 2018, stocks were overdue for a drop, said David Kelly, the chief global strategist for JPMorgan Asset Management.

"It's like a kid at a child's party who, after an afternoon of cake and ice cream, eats one more cookie and that puts them over the edge," said David Kelly, the chief global strategist for JPMorgan Asset Management.