Finance Finance News Aussie shares resume falls on overseas sell-off

Aussie shares resume falls on overseas sell-off

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The Australian share market has fallen in early trade following a renewed sell-off on global equity markets overnight.

The benchmark ASX 200 index of larger stocks was down 1 per cent to 4,772 by 10:14am (AEDT), while the broader All Ordinaries index was 46 points off at 4,825.

Banks were again leading the sell-off, after financial institutions in Europe and the US were hammered once more overnight.

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National Australia Bank and Westpac were down 1.8 per cent, while ANZ and the Commonwealth were off 1.2 per cent.

Regional banks Bendigo and Adelaide and Bank of Queensland continued their horror weeks falling about 2 per cent.

Investment bank Macquarie eased 0.8 per cent to $60.04.

The oil and gas sector was holding up relatively well, considering another fall in the price of oil overnight.

West Texas crude was down to $US26.14 a barrel, while Brent was worth $US31.11.

Woodside Petroleum was down just 0.7 per cent to $26.50.

Other resources stocks were mixed: BHP Billiton found a little support to rise 0.3 per cent to $15.28, while Rio Tinto was down 1.1 per cent after posting a $1.2 billion full-year loss yesterday evening after the local market closed.

Gold miner Newcrest, which has been one of this year’s standout performers, was up another 3.2 per cent to $16.84 after gold prices hit a one-year high overnight.

Spot gold was worth $US1,246 an ounce this morning.

The Australian dollar was also a bit higher against most major currencies at 71.2 US cents, 62.9 euro cents, 80.1 Japanese yen and 49.1 British pence.

Nervous investors looking for safe havens have sent gold prices to their highest level since February last year.

Overnight, spot gold surged more than $US50, or 4 per cent, to $US1,248 an ounce.

Since the start of the year, the precious metal has gained 18 per cent in value.

The development comes, amid another sell-off on Wall Street, which pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 down more than 10 per cent for the year.

Sentiment took a nose-dive after Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen told a Senate panel she felt the US economy was still on a solid footing, despite the current market turmoil around the world.

When asked if the United States could be facing recession, Dr Yellen downplayed the chance of a contraction in growth.

She said, while the Fed was absolutely considering the risks to the US from problems in other regions, it was premature to make a judgement on the impact of market turbulence.

The banking sector suffered particularly large losses but, more broadly, the markets closed off their mid-session lows.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 1.6 per cent to 15,660.

The S&P 500 lost 1.2 per cent to 1,829 and the Nasdaq fell 0.4 per cent to 4,267.

European markets fared much worse, with London’s FTSE 100 tumbling 2.4 per cent to 5,537.

The CAC 40 in Paris slumped 4.1 per cent to 3,897 and Germany’s DAX lost 2.9 per cent to close at 8,753.