TOKYO (AP) -- Stocks tumbled Monday as China's main index sank 8.5 percent in tumultuous trading spurred by deepening fears over the slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

A man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

The Shanghai composite index slid to 3,209.91 as many China-listed companies hit their 10 percent downside limits. The benchmark has lost all of its gains for 2015, though it is still more than 40 percent above its level a year ago.

China's dimming outlook is provoking calls for more economic stimulus from Beijing, though earlier government efforts to staunch the hemorrhage appear to have done little to stabilize markets.

Asia's gloom spread to European markets, which opened Monday with Britain's FTSE 100 down 2.3 percent at 4,509.56 and Germany's DAX falling 2.5 percent to 9,871.96. The CAC 40 of France fell 2.2 percent to 4,528.96.

"It is a key moment for China. The equity market in free fall, the banking system increasingly starved of liquidity, rising capital outflows, and a rapidly slowing economy," Angus Nicholson, a market analyst for IG, said in a market note.

"Global markets look set to continue their rout into the European and U.S. sessions," he said, noting that the scale of the losses may have been exaggerated by the thin trading volumes typical of late August.

Some analysts say they see huge opportunities for bargains in the latest plunge in prices. But underlying the gloom is the growing conviction that policymakers and regulators may lack the means to staunch the losses.

The bloodletting spread across Asia, as Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 5.2 percent to 21,251.57and Japan's Nikkei 225 index dropped 4.6 percent to 18,540.68. Australia's S&P ASX/200 slid 4.1 percent to 5,001.30, while South Korea's Kospi lost 2.5 percent to 1,829.81.

Those declines followed tumbles over the weekend in emerging markets such as Egypt, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

Fresh evidence of the slowdown in China's economy sparked a wave of selling Friday in Europe and the U.S. that culminated with the S&P 500 losing nearly 6 percent for the week in its worst weekly slump since 2011.

The panic has underscored the scale of the challenge for Chinese leaders in seeking to curb excess investment and guide the economy toward a more sustainable pace of growth.

"My biggest concern is that global growth momentum is very fragile. The most important step is to see China take further action to try to bring their economy to a 7 percent growth path," said Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist for IHS.

With no sign of fresh market support from Beijing, Dow futures were down 2.45 percent late Monday Asian time while S&P futures were 2.3 percent lower.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar was at 120.51 yen on Monday, down from 122.05 yen on Friday. The euro rose to $1.1490 from $1.1388.

A slide in the value of the dollar against the Japanese yen is hurting shares in Tokyo, where exporters have benefited in the past two years from a weaker yen.

Sony Corp.'s shares fell 8.0 percent Monday, while Toyota Motor Corp.'s shares dropped 6.8 percent.

Prices for oil and other commodities also have been falling on expectations of weaker demand from China and other major importing economies.

Benchmark U.S. crude dropped $1.31 to $39.14 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 87 cents to $40.45 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.16 to $44.30 a barrel.


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