[SYDNEY] Australian shares extended losses in the afternoon session to close down 1.6 per cent on Thursday as financials and material sectors slid, while energy-related shares surged as oil prices rose after Saudi air strikes in Yemen.
Brent crude oil prices shot up nearly 6 per cent on Thursday after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies began a military operation in rebels Yemen.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 94.2 points to close at 5,879.1 points, its biggest fall since Dec 9. The benchmark closed nearly unchanged on Wednesday.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.42 per cent or 24.6 points to finish at 5,833.17.