Asian stocks fell to a 16-month low and emerging market currencies tumbled on Friday amid fears of a global recession, but a pledge from the G20 to preserve financial stability helped stem the scale of losses.
Equity markets pulled back from the depths of their slump and the euro gained after a statement committed the Group of 20 major economies to take all necessary actions and said central banks stood ready to provide liquidity.
Alarm at the U.S. Federal Reserve's dire outlook for the world's biggest economy at its two-day policy meeting this week pushed world stocks to 13-month lows as investors shed risky assets from portfolios and scurried to safer havens.
There is not much progress so far in Europe, and we are only hearing bad news on both the credit and economic fronts right now, said Hong Soon-pyo, a market analyst at Daishin Securities in Seoul.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan was down 1.8 percent, having earlier fallen as much as 3 percent to its lowest level since May 2010. Tokyo markets were closed for a holiday.
The G20 statement came as finance ministers and central bankers met in Washington, under pressure from investors to show action in the face of rising stresses in the financial system.
Several European banks have seen their share prices tumble and their cost of funding rise as investors worried about their exposure to debt issued by Greece and other debt-heavy euro zone countries.
Their pledge to support banks helped the beleaguered euro, which slid to a 10-year low against the yen on Thursday. It climbed 0.6 percent on Friday to $1.3540.
S&P 500 futures stabilized and were trading up 0.7 percent, suggesting Wall Street stocks might steady up later after a drop of around 3 percent -- the second in as many days -- on Thursday.
Despite their better growth prospects than the indebted West, Asia's emerging markets have been hit hard by the sell-off that began in late July, partly due to fund managers closing out profitable positions to cover losses elsewhere in their portfolios.
South Korea, where the main stock index fell more than 4 percent, became the latest emerging economy to pledge action to stem its falling currency on Friday after Brazil moved to protect its currency from a sharp slide, in what appeared to be a sudden shift in strategy.
It's a rush for the exits, said a currency trader. Investors spent 18 months building positions in these emerging markets and they're trying to get out of them in 18 hours.
Commodity markets, copper in particular, bore the brunt of the global rout that accompanied the Fed's gloomy outlook, with Brent crude oil futures posting their biggest single-day loss in six weeks on Thursday, as the Reuters-Jefferies CRB commodity index lost 4.4 percent.
Copper fell further on Friday, losing 1.4 percent to $7,564 a tonne, but oil steadied, with Brent crude up 0.6 percent at $106.08 a barrel and U.S. crude up 0.4 percent at $80.86.
(Additional reporting by Vikram Subhedar in HONG KONG; Editing by Neil Fullick)