Behind the slides have been concerns over the Ukraine-Russia war, soaring inflation, higher interest rates and, more recently, a possible U.S. recession.
The index earlier this month confirmed the common definition of a bear market by closing down over 20% from its January record peak.
Policy makers on Wednesday reiterated their commitment to controlling inflation no matter what pain it caused, and data on U.S. core prices later in the session will only underline the extent of the challenge.
Japan's Nikkei index fell 1.01% in early trading, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.1%, dragged lower by Australian shares, off 1.29%, and Korea's KOSPI, down 1.57%.
The S&P and the Nasdaq fell about 2% and 3% respectively, with Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Amazon.com (AMZN.O) weighing the heaviest. The blue-chip Dow shed about 1.6%.
Oil continued to rise with investors still weighing worries over an economic slowdown against concern over lost Russian supply amid sanctions related to the conflict in Ukraine.
All three indexes are on course to notch two straight quarterly declines for the first time since 2015. They also appear set to post losses for June, which would mark three consecutive down months for the tech-heavy Nasdaq, its longest losing streak since 2015.
Treasury yields remained subdued and the dollar hovered near the lowest in more than a week as investors continued to assess the outlook for U.S. rate hikes, and the potential for a recession.
That’s according to Societe Generale, which calculates the benchmark gauge may need to tumble as much as 40% from its January peak in the next six months to hit bottom. That comes out to 2,900. The upper end of the range the firm gave is for the index to slump by roughly 34% from its top, to 3,150.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan reversed earlier gains to be mostly flat in Asia trade. Stocks in South Korea were off, while Japan's Nikkei was broadly unchanged.
The dollar fell alongside U.S. Treasury yields on fears the U.S. economy could slip into recession after Powell, in testimony to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, said higher rates are painful but are the means the U.S. central bank has to slow inflation.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1%, but was still up 1.39% on the more than five-week low it hit on Monday. Tokyo's Nikkei gave up early gains and was flat.
All 11 major S&P 500 (.SPX) sectors gained, as stocks rebounded broadly after the benchmark index last week logged its biggest weekly percentage decline since March 2020.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.85% in early trading, edging up from a more than five-week low hit the previous day.
The euro also softened slightly after French President Emmanuel Macron lost control of the National Assembly in legislative elections on Sunday, a major setback that could throw the country into political paralysis.
The Federal Reserve raised its target interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, its biggest rate hike since 1994, and projected a slowing economy and rising unemployment in the months to come.
Treasury yields hit decade highs and the dollar a 20-year peak as futures implied it was near certain the Fed would hike by 75 basis points to a range of 1.50-1.75% later on Wednesday.
Analyst expectations had largely been predicting the Fed would hike by 50 basis points at the conclusion of its meeting on Wednesday.
Rising interest rates, high inflation, the war in Ukraine and a slowdown in China's economy have led investors to reconsider what they're willing to pay for a wide range of stocks, from high-flying tech companies to traditional automakers. Big swings have become commonplace and Monday was no exception.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.9%. Australian shares S&P/ASX200 sank 5% in early trade, while Japan's Nikkei stock index was down 1.74%.
The benchmark S&P index has fallen for four straight days, with the index now down more than 20% from its most recent record closing high to confirm a bear market began on Jan. 3, according to a commonly used definition.
Chinese blue chips dropped 0.84%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng suffered a 2.9% slide. Japan's Nikkei slumped 2.78%, and South Korea's Kospi declined 2.78%.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.2% in early Asian trade, weighed down by drops of 1.5% in Hong Kong, 0.8% in resources-heavy Australia and 1.6% in South Korea.
Selling picked up towards the end of the session. Mega-cap growth stocks led the drop, with Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc falling 3.6% and 4.2%, respectively, and putting the most pressure on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.
But before the meeting, at which the ECB is set to bring to an end its Asset Purchase Programme and signal rate hikes to combat rising inflation, moves in the Asian session were relatively muted as many investors kept to the sidelines.