AUSTRALIAN STOCKS TANK: Here's what you need to know

The Chinese martial art of breaking bricks with your head. China Photos/Getty Images

Australian stocks closed lower.

Here’s the scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 4,841.50 -61.57 -1.26%
  • All Ordinaries: 4,896.90 -58.20 -1.17%
  • AUD/USD: 0.6869 -0.0039 -0.56%

After returning to positive sessions yesterday, local investor sentiment turned again today. The ASX 200 has lost 8.6% since the start of 2016.

The market opened higher but then fell hard, as heavy falls in China spread through the region.

On the local market, five sectors were lower and five higher but the banks, big miners and energy stocks were all major drags.

Thebanks were led down by the ANZ which lost 4.4% to close at $23.50 after an analyst suggested it may have to cut dividends later this year.

Westpac dropped almost 3.6% to $30.06, the Commonwealth 2% to $77.61 and NAB 1% to $26.74.

BHP shed 3.5% to $14.21 and Santos was down 7.4% to $2.48.

Slater and Gordon was sold down again after another lawyer, Shine, issued a profit warning. Slater and Gordon closed down 9.6% to $0.565.

The top stories Wednesday:

1. More building. Australia built more houses than ever before in the September quarter of last year.

2. Worse than 2007? William White, chairman of the OECD’s review committee and former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements, warns of looming wave of bankruptcies.

3. More bad news. BHP’s profit will be hit by at least another $400 million in redundancy costs and writedowns. BHP closed down 3.5% to $14.21.

4. The market and super fund returns. The falling value of the Australian dollar against the US dollar is cushioning superannuation funds from the local Australian market crunch.

5. China investors seeking a minority interest. Seek is facing a takeover offer for its Chinese jobs business. Seek shares closed at $14.00, up 0.7%.

6. Confidence sliding. Australian consumer sentiment fell heavily in January, led lower by renewed concerns over the outlook for China’s economy and volatility in financial markets.

7. Australia’s CEOs are down on 2016. And a lot of them say they’ll be cutting staff in 2016.

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