Australian stocks opened solidly lower Monday, reacting to losses for key commodities and not helped by sizeable losses Friday in the U.S., including a 1.4% drop for the S&P 500 . Sydney's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was 0.9% lower about 20 minutes into trading, with the mining sector leading the retreat. Iron-ore miners in particular suffered as Tianjin spot ore prices hit $58.20 per metric ton, Dow Jones Newswires reported, marking the lowest level since the Steel Index began publishing the prices in 2008. As a result, Arrium Ltd. fell 4.1%, Atlas Iron Ltd. lost 3%, and BC Iron Ltd. dropped 5.8%, though Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. managed to rise 0.5% as it appeared set to refinance much of its multi-billion-dollar debt load. Still, Fortescue shares are down more than 20% for the year to date. Gold miners -- stock in which is generally more volatile than for the iron-ore space -- likewise suffered, with Newcrest Mining Ltd. down 3.2%, Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. down 5.8%, and Perseus Mining Ltd. down 8.7%. Diversified senior miners BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd. lost 2.1% apiece. Among the utilities, Origin Energy Ltd. lost 1.2%, and AGL Energy Ltd. gave up 1%, as J.P. Morgan wrote that discounting in the industry is encouraging customers to switch providers at a greater rate. Among other movers, Macquarie Group Ltd. fell 1.9% after the Wall Street losses at the end of the previous week, while mall-developer Scentre Group dropped 3.1%, and WorleyParsons Ltd. weakened by another 2.9% after news of its removal from the S&P/ASX 50 index, announced Friday. Seek Ltd. and Medibank Private Ltd. , both of which will be joining the ASX 50, were down 0.4% each.
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