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STOCKS CRASH AGAIN, ASX IN BEAR TERRITORY: What you need to know

Photo: Michael Smith/Newsmakers

Australia officially became a bear market with stocks crushed again in a global selloff.

Here’s the scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 4,775.70 -56.38 -1.17%
  • All Ordinaries: 4,826.50 -56.10 -1.15%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7055 -0.0016 -0.23%

The ASX 200 tipped into a bear market today when the index recorded more than 20% of losses from its high of 5996.9 on March 3 last year.

The index crashed through the key 4800 point level, for the first time since July 2013, after losing 2.88% yesterday in a global avalanche.

Almost half those losses have been over less than two months. The market is now down 9.8% since the start of 2016.

Fear over the banking sector spread to this region from the US and European markets. While Wall Street closed flat, European shares were down for a seventh session in a row with the banking sector weaker by 4%.

At the centre of the banking rout is Deutsche Bank, whose shares shed another 4.3% after dropping 9.5% on Monday, and the bank’s ability to pay the interest on its bonds.

On the local market, all sectors were lower, led by the banks and financial stocks.

The NAB was down 1.9% to $24.42. The exception was the Commonwealth Bank which closed 1.8% higher at $74.20 after posting a record half year profit and maintaining its dividend payout.

The big miners were weaker with BHP down almost 2.5% to $15.65. And energy stocks were hit again by falling oil prices. Santos lost 2.6% to $2.98.

Telstra lost 2.3% to $5.43. .

The top stories Wednesday:

1. Standing out. The Commonwealth Bank beat expectations to post a record half year cash profit of $4.804 billion, a 4% rise, and it kept its dividends at the same level. Its shares closed up 1.8% to$ 74.20.

2. Australian optimism is back. Sentiment among Australian households rebounded strongly in February with the Westpac-MI consumer sentiment index rising 4.2% to 101.3.

3. Trouble ahead. The global slide in financial markets plus falling commodity prices is cutting into the business of Computershare, the world’s biggest share registry. Its shares closed 7.8% down at $9.60.

4. Selling to China. Australian developers are using feng shui to lure Chinese foreign buyers. Also read: December was a stunning month for apartment sales in Australia.

5. Order direct from the maker. Cars are about to get a whole lot cheaper in Australia.

6. New drugs. The Turnbull government is making medicinal cannabis legal in Australia.

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