The Australian market is getting smashed

Photo: Getty Images

Australian stocks were smashed at the open today, dropping as much as 1.7% in the first 30 minutes, wiping billions of dollars of the value of the ASX200.

Chris Weston, market strategist at IG, says the fall could be down to end of financial year selling, with traders selling weak names to offset against any gains made through the year.

On the last day of the last full trading week of the financial year, BHP, the world’s biggest miner, lost more than 3% to $27.62 and Rio Tinto was down more than 2% to $54.47.

All the major banks fell hard with Westpac down 1.59% to $32.78.

The lead from Wall Street wasn’t terrible: the S&P 500 fell 0.3%, mainly on lower oil prices.

The local market fell below 5600 points on the ASX 200. Nine out of the ten sectors were weaker. Materials were down 2.8%, and utilities were down more than 3.6%.

Value hunters stepped in to buy some stocks that have been under pressure recently. Woolworths, which has been under pressure amid declining margins driven by a price war with Coles and the arrival of Lidl and Aldi, was up more than 4% to $27.49 at one point, making it the biggest gainer on the ASX200 today so far.

Kathmandu, another retailer that has been under pressure, was also up more than 1%, while Slater & Gordon, which was sold off earlier this week after some problems at its UK outfit, was up almost 2.4%.

Here’s the chart of the action at the open:

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