The Hang Seng dropped nearly 3.2% to 19,264. The Nikkei fell 1.1% to 8,801. The Shanghai Composite was down 1.2% to 2,457.
Most markets in Europe opened off at least 1%. Bank shares were hurt particularly on concerns that their sovereign debt holdings may have to be written down in some cases. Gold and oil were both off on belief that the global economy could falter.
While data from the EU yesterday showed that the region was not in recession in the first quarter, this was largely because of an improvement of 0.5% in Germany. Figures for Greece, Spain and Portugal showed contraction, and France was no better than flat in GDP movement over the last month of 2011.
Douglas A. McIntyre