The S&P-ASX 200 index finished the day 106.9 points or 2.27% lower on 4600.4, while the All Ordinaries dipped 105.4 points to 4683.2.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 279.65 points or 2.22% down at 12,290.14, the S&P 500 index dropped 30.65 points or 2.28% to 1314.55 and the Nasdaq Composite shed 66.11 points or 2.33% to 2769.19.
Stocks were hit hard early after the US markets tumbled on weaker than expected employment and manufacturing data, sparking fresh fears the US economy is going backwards.
Closer to home, there was some happy news on the retail front with figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing retail spending jumped a surprising 1.1% in April.
However, the news did little to improve investor sentiment.
The major miners were hit hard in today’s sell off. BHP Billiton slipped under $A44, falling 98c to $43.55, Rio Tinto shed $1.45 to $80.10, Fortescue Metals Group dropped 23c to $6.46, OZ Minerals shed 1c to $1.345 and Paladin Energy dipped 8c to $3.12.
The big news of the day was the official signing of a joint venture between Rio Tinto and Chinalco to form Chinalco Rio Tinto Exploration.
Its main brief will be the search for copper across mainland China and will be 51% owned by Chinalco with Rio holding the balance.
Ord River Resources was one of the big movers of the day after it announced that Sino Australian Resources Co (SARCO) and China Non-Ferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering & Construction Co (NFC) had signed a memorandum of understanding for a future $US600 million ($A564 million) EPC contract to construct an alumina refinery in Laos.
Shares in Ord closed nearly 20% or A1.8c higher on 11c.
As for gold stocks, Australia’s largest locally owned miner Newcrest Mining closed 64c lower on $38.78, Kingsgate Consolidated dipped 28c to $7.74 and AngloGold Ashanti was unchanged on $8.50.
At 4.28pm (AEDT) the spot price of the precious metal was down marginally to $US1539.25 an ounce, while the Australian dollar continued to track above parity, fetching $1.06.