Shares take another tumble

THE Australian stockmarket plunged to its lowest level in three months yesterday as investors retreated concerned about European debt and that the global economic recovery may have been overplayed.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 which comprises the nation’s largest 200 companies lost a staggering $31 million soon after the opening bell yesterday morning.

By noon it had pared back some of its losses, but still closed deeply in the red, shedding 2.4 per cent.

The sell-off was broad-based with many ‘mum and dad’ shares hit hard, with 44 of the 50 largest stocks recording falls.

“This is broad-based and everywhere has had a sell-off because of worldwide sentiment,” Bell Financial Group senior adviser Chris Kimber told AAP.

Investors sent US and European stocks and commodity prices tumbling on reports of rising European debt levels and an unexpected jump in US unemployment.

BHP Billiton lost 3.5pc of its value, while Qantas shed 3.8pc. The major banks also contributed to the market decline, with ANZ falling 52 cents, or 2.42pc, to $20.90.

Westpac fell 52 cents to $22.61, National Australia Bank was 56 cents weaker at $25.31 and Commonwealth Bank declined 28 cents to $52.67.

The sharemarket has now lost about 10pc from its recent peak on January 11 of just shy of 5000 points. That amounts to the loss of about $110 billion in the ASX200’s market value.



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