Aust stocks close weaker

Local market falls more than 1.6% as investors worry about US budget.

The Australian stock market slumped more than 1.6% today as investors worry about a United States government shutdown if budget negotiations fail.

At the 1615 AEST official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 1.66% to 5,218.9 points, the broader All Ordinaries index retreated 1.6% to 5,217.7 points.

IG analyst Chris Weston said despite bad news from around the world today, investors are most worried about the US fiscal cliff and budget debate, as traders look to safety.

House speaker John Boehner "will have to pull out something big to avoid a shutdown," Mr Weston said.

"What is clear though is both Harry Reid and John Boehner want to avoid a shutdown, so that may work in the market’s favour, however the market is placing much more emphasis on the debt ceiling debate and rightly so as the implications could be much more severe."

Locally, he said selling has been orderly and volumes low.

"Therefore the falls seem like a result of a buyers' strike rather than genuine panic," Mr Weston said.

The dip follows a five-year closing high on Friday as investors positioned for the end of the quarter.