New Zealand shares are tipped to be hit today after global sharemarkets were slammed in what's been described as a "bloodbath".

Hundreds of billions of dollars were wiped from the value of shares around the world yesterday. Australia's stock market fell 3.2 per cent after Wall Street's 4.6 per cent fall — where gains for the year have been erased in what was the steepest tumble in nearly seven years.

In Asia markets were also hammered with the Nikkei in Japan falling 4.73 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index last night finishing down 5.11 per cent, pointing to another turbulent session on Wall Street. In early trading, Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 2.05 per cent.

The global plunge — which will hit KiwiSaver balances — has been blamed on an overdue correction to booming sharemarkets over the past year, in particular, and the prospect of rising interest rates in the United States, which could slow economic growth by making it more expensive for people and businesses to borrow.

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The highest bond yields in years are making bonds more appealing to investors compared with stocks.

Across the Tasman the ASX suffered its biggest one-day fall in more than two years, wiping around A$66 billion ($71b) from its value. "It is an actual bloodbath," Charles Schwab market analyst Ben Le Brun said.

The New Zealand market was closed for Waitangi Day yesterday which one analyst said was lucky as it could have been an "ugly day".

On Monday the NZ sharemarket closed down 2.1 per cent and experts expect further falls today.

Craigs Investment Partners head of private wealth research Mark Lister there was an air of panic in US markets on Monday night.

"Markets have had a hell of a run, particularly in the US. It peaked pretty much last week and in the year leading up to that it had gone up some 25 per cent, so that's a massive move — to be honest it had gone a bit overboard," he said.

NZ would play catch-up when the markets opened this morning and shares would "certainly be down".

"My guess would be that we would hold up better than some of these global markets because the New Zealand market hasn't been quite as strong as others around the world."

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While investors would still feel the brunt of the dive he said falls were likely to be less than overseas.

A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange headlines the stock index news at the close of trading. Photo / AP
A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange headlines the stock index news at the close of trading. Photo / AP

"We tend to be a less volatile market — we've got lots of quite stable, predictable companies on our market," said Lister.

These tended to hold up better in tough times, Lister said.

Harbour Asset Management portfolio manager Shane Solly said the market was "letting off steam" after a prolonged period of being incredibly strong.

"We're getting a bit stretched and this is part of a normal cycle of a capital market — it has to let off steam," Solly said.

"But when you take the punch away from the party, some people are going to be unhappy. That's what we're seeing now.

"It's maybe happening a bit earlier than expected and they're thinking, 'Hmm, maybe the party's over'."

There was no indication that the world was heading into another financial meltdown, with most companies having stronger balance sheets than they did in 2008 when the global financial crisis hit, he said.

While most KiwiSaver funds will take a hit, experts point out that if investors are in the appropriate fund for their circumstances they could ride out short-term volatility.

In Australia, CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said despite the heavy falls on the ASX there could be a sharp rebound in coming days courtesy of bargain hunters.

"Once it becomes volatile like this the chances are it will stay volatile," he said.

- Additional reporting: AAP, AP, Bloomberg