SYDNEY, NSW, Australia - Stock markets in Asia were mostly on the defensive on Wednesday, although the Australian market managed a gain, on the back of strong profit reports from the nation's biggest banks.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 tumbled 241.37 points or 0.83 percent to 28,812.63.
China's Shanghai Composite dropped 28.04 points or 0.81 percent to 3,446.86.
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed 139.16 points or 0.49 percent to close at 28,417.98.
In Australia, it was a different story with the All Ordinaries climbing 20.70 points or 0.70 percent to 7,344.20.
The U.S. dollar forged ahead in Asia, pushing the euro below the crucial 1.2000 handle. The EU unit last traded in Sydney at the close, around 1.988. The British pound fell to 1.3892. The Japanese yen was little changed at 109.44, while the Swiss franc weakened to 0.9161.
The Canadian dollar was unmoved at 1.2302, but the Australian dollar dived to 0.7710. The New Zealand dollar slid more than half a cent to 0.7152.
Overnight on Wall Street, the Nasdaq Composite ended the day down 261.62 points or 1.88 percent at 13,633.50.
The Standard and Poor's 500 let go 27.90 points or 0.67 percent to 4,164.76.
The Dow Jones industrials managed a small gain despite the turmoil, adding 20.26 points or 0.06 percent to 34,133.49.