Oil surged to near $104 per barrel on concern Russian supplies might be disrupted.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index dived 1.7 percent to 14,585.13 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.6 percent to 22,691.54. Taipei, Seoul, Sydney and Singapore also fell.
On Wall Street, futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 indexes were off by an unusually large 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent respectively.
Traders were jittery over warnings by Washington and other governments that Moscow, an oil exporter, might face sanctions after it seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
“Economic war with Russia, if this escalates, would take a toll on the global economy,” said Carl B. Weinberg of High Frequency Economics in a report.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index bucked the trend, adding 0.8 percent to 2,071.62 despite a survey showing manufacturing weakened in February and employers cut jobs.
Taiwan’s Taiex lost 0.9 percent to 8,563.26 and Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.9 percent to 1,962.03. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.4 percent to 5,380.3. Manila and Jakarta also fell.
Most Asian economies depend on imported oil and gas, making them sensitive to any turmoil that might disrupt supplies.
Monday’s losses were a reverse from last week’s gains in many global markets.
In Europe, Germany’s DAX gained 1.1 percent on Friday and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent. The S&P added 0.3 percent for a record high. The Dow Jones average added 0.3 percent.
Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up $1.21 to $103.80 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 19 cents in the previous session to close at $102.59.
In currency markets, the euro rose to $1.3777 from $1.3767 late Tuesday. The dollar rose to 101.41 yen from 101.40 yen.