AUSTRALIAN STOCKS CRUSHED: What you need to know

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Australian stocks were hammered.

Here’s today’s scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 4,875.00 -104.59 -2.10%
  • All Ordinaries: 4,943.30 -95.83 -1.90%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7178 -0.0027 -0.37%

The global gloom sent local shares diving and the ASX 200 crashing down through the key support level of 4900 points, putting the market down 1.57% this week.

BHP, the world’ biggest miner, had its biggest one day fall since December 2008, dropping 8.2% to $16.18 after yesterday posting a massive loss and a cut in dividends.

Overnight Wall Street fell sharply as oil prices weakened and the banks sold down. The S&P 500 closed down 1%.

One the local market, the banks also fell hard. Westpac dropped 3.9% to $28.49, the NAB 3.8% to $24.49, the ANZ 3.4% to $22.32 and the Commonwealth 2.7% to $71.26.

Rio Tinto shed 5.8% to $42.02. Among energy stocks, Santos was down 6.5% to $43.13 and Woodside Petroleum 2.6% to $26.97.

WorleyParsons shares dropped 13% to $3.66 after the services company posted a 77.9% fall in profit to $23.1 million as low oil prices cut its business in the resources sector.

Mesoblast shares were up again, this time more than 12% to $1.82 after a stem cell product launch in Japan.

Atlas Iron shares jumped by one-third to $0.016 after posting improved earnings.

The top stories Wednesday:

1. Its legal, as medicine. The Australian parliament passed new national laws today paving the way for the use of medicinal cannabis by people with painful and chronic illness.

2. A fragile confidence. Wage growth in Australia has been tanking, and it explains why everyone feels in a rut.

3. Coles and Bunnings perform. Wesfarmers, Australia’s biggest private employer, posted a 1.2% rise in half year profit to $1.393 billion on a strong performance in its retail businesses including Coles and Bunnings. Wesfarmers shares were down 4.8% to $41.50.

4. The brands wins. Bega Cheese’s strong brand and a move into infant formula has helped it rise above the global fall in dairy prices. Its shares were up more than 2% to $5.74.

5. Are the Chinese buys fading? Listed real estate agent McGrath has noticed a significant slow down in interest from Chinese buyers. McGrath lost more than 14% to close at $1.45. Also read: The dollar value of apartment construction in Australia is soaring.

6. The writedowns are coming. Shares in the troubled ASX-listed law firm Slater and Gordon have gone into voluntary suspension, pending an announcement about an impairment in the value of its UK business.

7. Hard cost cutting. Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals managed to keep the fall in half year profit to just 4%, down to $US319 million, despite a 31% slide in revenue to $US3.344 billion. Fortescue was trading at $2, down 4.7%.

8. Round the world. Flight Centre’s profits are rising thanks to cheap airfares and a newfound interest by Australians in ocean and river cruising.

9. Rex in writedowns. The Regional Express (Rex) Group has posted a statutory after tax loss of $11.4 million after writing down more than $17 million in assets, goodwill and fuel hedging. Rex shares dropped 4.6% to close at $0.83.

10. Paperwork? A hedge fund manager posing as a Sydney home buyer says was shown how to trick banks on mortgage applications.

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