Australia's stock market couldn't help but make a sizeable move downward at the open of Wednesday's session after heavy losses for Wall Street shares overnight. As in the U.S., where the the major indexes fell 1.7%-1.9% each, Australian investors appeared to be moving from stocks to bonds, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 1.3% half an hour into the session, while government-bond prices rose, sending the Australian 10-year bond yield below the 2.6% level, according to Dow Jones Newswires. Banks were weak (National Australia Bank Ltd. down 1.2%, Westpac Banking Corp. down 1.3%), as were media shares (Fairfax Media Ltd. down 2.2%, Seven Group Holdings Ltd. down 2.5%) and energy stocks (Karoon Gas Australia Ltd. down 2.5%, Beach Energy Ltd. down 3.8%). But perhaps the biggest drag was the heavily weighted shares of BHP Billiton Ltd. , which plunged 5.4% as they traded without rights to the latest dividend. The other miners suffered only slightly less, as Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. dropped 3.6%, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. fell 3.5%, and Atlas Iron Ltd. retreated 3.3%.
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