| GEO Business|
| Asian markets down at opening|
| Updated at: 1243 PST, Thursday, October 23, 2008|
WASHINGTON: Asian markets opened sharply down after another heavy rout on Wall Street, as the US called on the G-20 countries to meet in Washington on the global financial crisis.
In Japan the Nikkei stock index tumbled more than seven percent in early trade on Thursday, hitting the lowest level in more than five years as fears grew of a global recession.
The Nikkei-225 lost 658.08 points, or 7.59 percent, to 8,016.61, levels last seen in May 2003. The plunge came after the Dow Jones index plummeted 5.69 percent overnight on Wall Street.
South Korean shares also fell in early trading, with the KOSPI index losing 6.3 percent to sink 71.45 points to 1,063.14. Shares on the Straits Times Index in Singapore dropped 4.12 percent in early trade, falling 75.07 points to 1,746.06.
A similar story in Australia saw share prices fall 4.3 percent, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropping 178.0 points to 3,978.1.