Australian stocks are falling again

Angus Waddington of Australia in the second heat of the Polartec Big Air in Boston, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Australian market fell hard in early trade.

Stocks were battered by a global rout in banking stocks. Overnight the S&P 500 was down 1.2% and in Europe the EuroSTOXX banks sector lost 6.3%.

The ASX fell through the key 4800 point level and was down more than 1.2% before making up some lost ground. A short time ago, it was at 4,787.10, down 33.98 points or 0.70%.

Seven out of ten sectors were in the red with the big four banks losing ground. Westpac shed 1.67% to $28.31.

Rio Tinto dropped as much as 3% after releasing a loss of $US866 million for the half year to December. It later settled to be down 1.15% to $40.52.

Bluescope shares were up 13% to $4.96 after the steel maker increased its half year profit guidance by $50 million to $230 million.

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