The Australian share market is on track for its third worst day of the year with almost all indexes still in the red at midday following Wall Street’s overnight tumble.
After plunging at the opening, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index has flattened, down 111.9 points, or 1.85 per cent, at 5,937.9 points at 1200 AEDT on Thursday.
The ASX200 is below the 6,000-point mark for the first time since early June, while the broader All Ordinaries is down 116.9 points, or 1.9 per cent, at 6,046.9.
Tech-related shares suffered the biggest decline, the sector shedding more than 4.5 per cent off the back of a poor US session.
Energy and healthcare have also taken a beating, while the heavyweight financial and materials sectors are in the doldrums.
Telco giant Telstra was down 1.4 per cent after it apologised to shareholders for a lack of clarity about how it calculates executive bonuses, acknowledging that some investors still feel they are too high despite a 30 per cent cut.
Shares in CSL, which held up the market on Wednesday, have fallen about 1.5 per cent, while Cochlear Limited has lost more than two per cent.
Only gold miners and Fortescue Metals Group are offering any real relief as investors seek a safe haven, recovering from yesterday’s flat trade to push Evolution up more than four per cent and St Barbara up more than 4.8 per cent at noon.
Fortescue Metals Group has launched a share buyback program of up to $500 million ($US355 million), joining bigger rival Rio Tinto in handing back cash to shareholders.
Share in FMG are up 1.36 per cent to $3.72, while BHP are down 2.62 per cent at $33.81, a fall only marginally worse than fellow mining giant Rio Tinto’s 2.43 per cent to $77.25.
The Aussie dollar is keeping its head above water, buying 70.65 US cents from 70.13 on Wednesday.
The big four banks were between 1.22 and 1.9 per cent lower, with ANZ leading the quartet lower.
Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn appeared before the House of Representatives economics committee while the market was opening with Westpac chief Brian Hartzer also to front the hearing on Thursday, which is the first of three being held in a week.
Shares in Macquarie Bank dropped 3.86 per cent to $118.16.