Australian markets lost significant ground, following carnage on Wall Street overnight, after US President Donald Trump continued to pursue his hard line on US-China trade.
Mr Trump, who over the weekend at the G20 meeting signalled the possibility of an extension of the 90-day trade truce with China, appeared to backtrack from the stance in a Twitter post.
Mr Trump said his team of trade advisers, led by China trade hawk US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, would determine whether a “REAL deal” with China is possible.
“If it is, we will get it done,” Mr Trump tweeted. “But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man.”
US markets responded to the remarks with some savage losses in a US$820 billion wipe-out.
The Dow Jones Industrial average plunged 799 points, or 3.1 percent. At one point, the index was down 818 points.
The S&P 500 declined 3.2 per cent while the Nasdaq tumbled 3.8 per cent.
Australian markets tracked Wall Street lower but the damage was not as severe.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down 44.7 points, or 0.8 per cent at market close, while the All Ordinaries Index was down 48.4 points, or 0.8 per cent.
The big four banks – Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and NAB – all lost between 0.8 per cent and 1.2 per cent.
Stock market analysts said confusion over US-China trade progress and worries about the US economic outlook had weighed heavily on the market.
Investor sentiment did not receive any help from the latest national accounts data, which showed Australia suffered its slowest pace of economic growth in two years during the September quarter.
However, Commonwealth Bank stockbroking arm CommSec noted the market was able to regain some of its intraday losses before the final bell, reaching a low point of 80 points down before closing only 44 points below market open.
“The selling was broad-based, with Financials, Energy and IT stocks the biggest losers. Utilities bucked the trend, with the sector rising 1.4 per cent, while Consumer Staples also improved,” CommSec added.