China stocks have tumbled again, hitting fresh one-year lows amid signs the recent market rout is triggering margin calls and forced liquidation, threatening yet another vicious downward market spiral.
Fresh economic data today did little to aid sentiment with industrial profits falling 4.7 per cent in December, the seventh straight month of declines.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was down three per cent in afternoon trade, having tumbled 6.4 per cent on Tuesday to its lowest close since December 1, 2014.
The CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen was down 2.4 per cent.
Hong Kong shares rebounded, probably helped by modest improvement in other regional markets though investors remained nervous as oil pulled back again and as they waited on a policy decision from the Federal Reserve later in the day.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.6 per cent, to 18,967.31 points, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index gained 0.2 per cent, to 7,908.96.
The index measuring price differences between dual-listed companies in Shanghai and Hong Kong stood at 137.29.
A value above 100 indicates Shanghai shares are pricing at a premium to shares in the same company trading in Hong Kong, and vice versa.
New Zealand shares were almost unchanged with the S&P/NZX 50 Index down 0.2 points to 6148.43. Within the index, 25 stocks rose, 15 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $94 million.
Australian stocks snapped a three-day winning streak today as investors retreated on further falls in oil prices and the Chinese market.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index and the broader All Ordinaries fell more than one per cent.
The falls on the Australian bourse got worse in the afternoon, mimicking sharp falls on the Chinese market, Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said.
"The morning session has really been impacted by that fall in the oil futures that we saw in Asia. And then the afternoon session has been highly impacted by the Chinese session," Lee said.
US futures are down 0.8 per cent in the last hour of trading on the Australian bourse, pointing to a negative night in the US, she added.
Wall Street ended Tuesday's session in positive territory, underpinned by a rally in oil prices and a string of stronger-than-expected earnings.
CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said the short term trading interests are using recent local gains to sell further stock.
"Until some of those aggressive shorts are shaken out of the market, we're likely to see repeats of this sort of behaviour on the back of an oil rally as they prepare themselves for what they see as another move down in the underlying oil price," he said.