Aust stocks close sharply lower

Local market falls after weakness in iron ore price as investors await consumer sentiment read.

The Australian sharemarket has closed more than 1.2% lower as Asian markets fall and a drop in the iron ore price weighs on miners.

At the 4.15pm (AEST) official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index declined 70 points, or 1.28%, to 5,409 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index shed 68.6 points, or 1.26%, to 5,390.3 points.

CommSec analyst Juliette Saly attributed the fall in the local market to movements offshore, as well as weakness in the iron ore price, which has slipped to $US100.70.

"It never really helps when we see weakness from the big Asian markets," Ms Saly said.

"Certainly the fact that we did see that big drop in the iron ore price has impacted the market.

"There are fears that as Chinese iron ore futures are down, we could see more weakness from the commodity." 

Investors are now looking ahead to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index for April, released on Wednesday, which is likely to also fall, she said.