Japanese stocks sustained another day of huge losses Wednesday thanks to investor worries about the financial health of European banks ahead of key congressional testimony by the head of the U.S. central bank.
One day after losing a staggering 918 points, or 5.40 percent, the Nikkei index dropped 372 points, or 2.3 percent, to end the day at 15,713.39, its lowest mark since October 2014. The Nikkei is down just over 10 percent this month, placing the index in "bear market" territory.
Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 dropped just over one percent to close at 4,775.70. Indexes in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei and Seoul remained closed for the Lunar New Year.
Investors are questioning whether some of Europe's biggest banks have sufficient capital reserves on hand to buffer against a slump in their share prices.
The current state of the U.S. economy, as well as the outlook for interest rate increases, growth and unemployment, are on the agenda Wednesday and Thursday when Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies before key congressional committees.