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Asia shares join US rout on growth woes; energy sector underperforms

Brendon Thorne | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Asia stocks joined Wall Street's selloff on Friday as investors fretted over slowing growth in Europe.

Energy-related shares led the declines in the region with oil prices widening their losses to more than 2 percent. Brent crude futures fell below $89 a barrel for the first time since 2010 while U.S. crude slid to its lowest since 2012.

Data showing German exports dropped 5.8 percent in August, the largest decline since the financial crisis, saw the Dow (Dow Jones Global Indexes: .DJI) tumble more than 300 points overnight, while the S&P 500 (^GSPC) and Nasdaq (^IXIC) slid more than 2 percent each. Remarks from European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi also weighed. Speaking at the Brookings Institute , he reiterated that quantitative easing would not be effective without economic reforms and warned of deflation risks.

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"Germany's August export crash reinforced the IMF's message that the odds of the euro zone slipping back into recession had doubled to nearly 40 percent. A third recession since the global financial crisis would raise the question, is recession the new normal?" said Tim Condon, head of Asia research at ING.

Comments from Federal Reserve officials overnight also hurt the mood. Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fisher and San Francisco Fed President John Williams both said they expect higher interest rates by mid-2015.

Nikkei 1.1% lower

Japan's benchmark Nikkei (Nihon Kenzai Shinbun: .N225) index hit a fresh two-month low, dropping for a fourth straight session ahead of a long weekend; markets will be shut on Monday.

Oil shares underperformed with Inpex (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 1605.T-JP) tumbling 5 percent and AOC Holdings losing 2 percent.

But Fast Retailing (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 9983.T-JP) bucked the trend, rallying 2 percent after announcing that it expects operating profit to grow by more than one-third in the year ahead.

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ASX sinks 2%

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 (^AXJO) closed at an eight-month low for the second time this week. On Thursday, the index rallied 1 percent to a one-week closing high, it's biggest one-day gain since August.

In the oil space, Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL-AU) fell 2.5 percent, Beach Energy (ASX:BPT-AU) closed down 7 percent and Oil Search (ASX:OSH-AU) tanked 3.6 percent.

Coal shares suffered after China, the world's top coal importer, said it will levy import tariffs on the commodity; Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC-AU) tanked 9 percent and Cockatoo Coal slumped 10 percent.

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Shanghai eases 0.7%

Profit-taking weighed on mainland shares after the Shanghai Composite index hit its highest levels since February 2013 for the seventh straight session on Thursday. Caution also set in ahead of a raft of September data next week.

Financials led the declines with China Minsheng Banking (Shanghai Stock Exchange: 16-SZ) and insurers Ping An (Shanghai Stock Exchange: 1318-SZ), New China Life (Shanghai Stock Exchange: 1336-SZ) and China Life (Shanghai Stock Exchange: 1628-SZ) all more than 1 percent each.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (Hong Kong Stock Exchange: .HSI) tanked 1.8 percent, on track to post its biggest percentage decline in two weeks and retreating from its previous two-week closing high. Government officials called off talks with protesting students on Thursday, raising fears of an escalation in demonstrations.

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Kospi drops 1.2%

South Korean shares resumed trade lower following a public holiday on Thursday, with the benchmark Kospi (Korea Stock Exchange: .KS11) index ending at a fresh five-month low.

Blue-chip tech heavyweights were among the top losers. Samsung Electronics (Korea Stock Exchange: 593-KR) dropped over 2 percent and memory-chip maker SK Hynix (Korea Stock Exchange: 66-KR) tumbled over 4 percent.

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Emerging markets drop

Malaysian shares eased 1 percent to close at their lowest levels since March. Banks were in focus on news that CIMB (Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange: CIMB-MY) agreed to merge with RHB Capital (Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange: RHBC-MY) and Malaysia Building Society (MBSS) to create the country's biggest banking group. CIMB shares shed 3.7 percent, RHB rallied 2.3 percent and MBSS surged over 10 percent.

India's Nifty index droppd 0.8 percent but Infosys (National Stock Exchange of India: INFY-IN) shares bucked the trend to rally over 5 percent on better-than-expected quarterly earnings.