Australian stocks smacked sharply lower in early Monday trading, as the Sydney market wrestled with uncertainty after Greece voted to reject the terms of its current international rescue program. The S&P/ASX 200 was down 1.7% about half an hour into the session, with the resource shares among the hardest-hit as a rising dollar -- lifted by safe-haven buying -- depressed most dollar-denominated commodity prices. Shares of BHP Billiton Ltd. lost 2.2%, Rio Tinto Ltd. fell 1.9%, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. dropped 3%, and Arrium Ltd. tumbled 5.6%. A plunge in crude-oil futures sparked a concomitant weakening of energy stocks, with Woodside Petroleum Ltd. down 2.5%, Oil Search Ltd. down 3.3%, and WorleyParsons Ltd. down 3.7%. Gold shares rose, however, tracking a movement to the preceived safety of the precious metal, with Newcrest Mining Ltd. up 1.8% and Evolution Mining Ltd. rallying 4.4%. Meanwhile, financials also suffered from the Greek news (National Australia Bank Ltd. down 1.9%, Westpac Banking Corp. down 2.1%), as did large retailers (Myer Holdings Ltd. down 3.4%, JB Hi-Fi Ltd. down 2.1%).
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