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Market rattled by carbon tax, debt woes

STOCKS sank to their lowest point this month after a sharp selloff on renewed concerns over the carbon tax and international debt woes.

STOCKS sank to their lowest point this month after a sharp selloff on renewed concerns over the carbon tax and international debt woes.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed down 86.9 points, or 1.9 per cent, at 4495.4.

Almost $25 billion was wiped from the Australian sharemarket in the worst trading day this month, based on the drop in the All Ordinaries Index to its weakest finish since June 29.

Austock Securities senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said international debt concerns coupled with the fallout from the carbon tax sent the market into the red. "We're seeing a perfect storm of negative influences hitting the market," he said.

"Take the European and American market pressures combined with our carbon tax and wrap it all up together and you've got a down day."

Mr Heffernan said Australian stocks slid further into negative territory throughout the day with airlines, energy and steel companies among the worst performers.

"Virgin Blue is getting belted because the airlines are getting no respite from the carbon tax, so both Virgin and Qantas have been right in the gun," Mr Heffernan said.

Virgin stocks dropped 3? to 31?, while Qantas lost 4.9 per cent, or 9.5?, to $1.84.

Mr Heffernan said coal stocks bucked the trend on the back of increased confidence from the $4.7 billion takeover bid for Macarthur Coal by US mining giant Peabody Energy and the world's largest steel maker ArcelorMittal.

Macarthur Coal jumped $4.06, or 36.6 per cent, to $15.14, Gloucester Coal added 33? to $8.76, New Hope rose 8? to $5.23 and Whitehaven Coal was up 17? at $6.27.

"It's quite ironic as coal stocks were expected to be hit hard by the carbon tax, yet they're the better performers than their other resource counterparts," Mr Heffernan said.

BlueScope Steel shed 4? to $1.22 and Fortescue Metals dropped 21? to $6.28.

BHP Billiton lost 84?, or 1.9 per cent, to $43.46 and Rio Tinto fell $1.77, or 2.1 per cent, to $81.43.

Among the banks, Macquarie Group was down $1.81, or 6 per cent, at $28.22, its weakest close since March 2009. National Australia Bank dropped 92?, or 3.7 per cent, to $23.88, ANZ lost 48? to $21.08, Commonwealth Bank shed 91? to $49.64 and Westpac lost 45? to $21.14.

The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1550.43 an ounce, up $US4.32 from Monday's close at $US1546.11. Preliminary national turnover reached 2.89 billion shares worth $5.98 billion, with 236 shares up, 867 down and 306 unchanged.


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