Aust stocks close sharply lower

Local market follows Wall Street lower as worries about Portugal, Argentina weigh.

The Australian sharemarket followed offshore markets sharply lower today as investors worry about the technical default in Argentina, disappointing US corporate earnings and concerns in the Portuguese banking system.

At the 4.15pm (AEST) official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index tumbled 76.5 points, or 1.36%, to 5,556.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index fell 75.5 points, or 1.34%, to 5,547.6 points.

CommSec analyst Tom Piotrowski said better news today, including positive reads on the health of China's manufacturing sector, has been ignored as investors digest a string of negative events.

"We're getting a lot of discussion about the Argentinian default. That's a bit of a misnomer because they're not actually in default," Mr Piotrowski said.

"They have tried to make the payments but because of a technicality in the courts that payment hasn't been made.

"It's a bit of a storm in a teacup."