Sydney (Reuters) - Asian stocks got off to shaky start on Monday in step with a steep decline on Wall Street as worries about global economic growth sapped confidence, keeping crude oil prices stuck near four-year lows.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.5 per cent, extending last week's 1.1 per cent drop. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index dipped 0.5 per cent, while South Korea's KOSPI slid 0.8 per cent.
Japanese financial markets are closed on Monday and other major centres including the United States and Canada will be partially, or fully, shut for holidays as well.
The declines in Asian markets came after U.S. stocks tumbled 1.2 per cent on Friday and Wall Street's fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility Index, jumped to a near two-year high.
At an International Monetary Fund and World Bank meeting in Washington on Saturday, IMF member countries called for bold action to bolster the global economic recovery and flagged Europe as a top concern.
"The sell-off on Friday was brutal. Maybe even overly so,"said Evan Lucas, strategist at IG in Melbourne. "With global growth being slashed and the outlook for emerging markets looking very shaky, Australia will suffer more than most developed nations."
Asia's MSCI index has fallen every week in the past five and is now down 10 per cent from a near seven-year peak set early last month.
With Europe staring at the prospects of a recession, Japan's economy floundering, China's expansion slowing and the Federal Reserve on track to end its bond-buying stimulus soon, investors have been cutting back on risk assets in earnest.
Chinese trade data due later in the day will be closely watched and any disappointment there will no doubt keep investors in a 'risk off' mode.
All this anxiety has helped shore up the safe-haven yen, which rose to an 11-month high against the euro at 135.58 early on Monday.
It reached a one-month high on the greenback at 107.26 , pulling well away from a six-year trough of 110.09 per US dollar reached early this month.