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Tax and debt woes push local stocks to July low

DOMESTIC stocks sank to their lowest point so far this month after a sharp sell-off sparked by renewed concerns over the carbon tax and international debt woes.

DOMESTIC stocks sank to their lowest point so far this month after a sharp sell-off sparked by renewed concerns over the carbon tax and international debt woes.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 86.9 points, or 1.9 per cent, at 4495.4. The broader All Ordinaries index fell 83.3 points, or 1.79 per cent, to 4563.5.

Almost $25 billion was wiped from the sharemarket.

An 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."

Australian stocks slid further into negative territory, 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 fell 4.91 per cent, or 9.5?, to $1.84.

Mr Heffernan said coal stocks bucked the trend because 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 36.64 per cent, to $15.14, Gloucester Coal rose 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." BlueScope Steel fell 4? to $1.22 and Fortescue Metals fell 21? to $6.28. BHP Billiton fell 84?, or 1.9 per cent, to $43.46 and Rio Tinto fell $1.77, or 2.13 per cent, to $81.43.

Among the banks, Macquarie Group was down $1.81, or 6.03 per cent, to $28.22, its weakest close since March 2009.

National Australia Bank fell 92?, or 3.71 per cent, to $23.88, ANZ fell 48? to $21.08, Commonwealth Bank fell 91? to $49.64 and Westpac fell 45? to $21.14.

Preliminary national turnover reached 2.89 billion shares worth $5.98 billion, with 236 shares up, 867 down and 306 unchanged.

WINNERS

Macarthur Coal 36.64%

Energy World Corp 7.96

Beach Energy 5.32

Gloucester Coal 3.91

Whitehaven Coal 2.46

Austar United 2.33

Aston Resources 2.16

Hastings Diversified 0.94

Telecom NZ 0.78

Intrepid Mines 0.62

LOSERS

Virgin Blue Holdings -8.82%

Gunns -6.90

Karoon Gas -6.37

Pacific Brands -6.25

Macmahon Holdings -6.09

Macquarie Group -6.03

OM Holdings -6.00

Iluka Resources -5.76

Murchison Metals -5.71

Western Areas -5.53


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