The Australian market was hit by a wave of selling from Wall Street, with Australian bank shares hit the hardest.

The ASX200 dropped below 5,700 points. A short time ago, the index was at 5,686.50, down 88.12 points or 1.53%.

Wall Street suffered its steepest fall of 2017. Overnight the S&P500 fell 1.2% on the back of a rout in financial sector stocks on fears the Trump administration may not be able to push through tax cuts.

“US stocks suffered their worst single session since October as financials took a serious beating, their worst since the initial Brexit-driven downdraft,” according to a note from Ord Minnett.

On the ASX, the US sentiment flowed through to local banks.

The ANZ was down 2.3% to $30.82, Westpac 2.5% to $33.44, the Commonwealth 2% to $82.68 and NAB 1.6% to $31.68.

The big miners were caught in the slump. BHP was down 2.5% to $24.02 and Rio Tinto almost 3% to $59.77.

Falling iron ore prices hit Fortescue Metals, sending its shares down 5% to $6.280.

Bluescope Steel dropped 6% to $12.21.

“It’s a sea of red this morning,” says Gary Huxtable, client adviser at Atlantic Pacific Securities.

Among health stocks, CSL fell 2.2% to $$122.28 and Cochlear 1.6% to $130.30.

Gold stocks were a safe haven. Northern Star was up 2% to $4.24 and Oceanagold 2.3% to $4.01.

A stand out was Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments, up 4.6% to $14.43, after yesterday posting record half year sales for its string of fashion brands.

March 22, 2017