The Asian region was shocked by the news that North Korean leader Kim Jong-II died of heart attack, adding more uncertainty to volatile markets.
At home the focus of the day was again on the retail sector, after Billabong announced a review of its capital structure, whilst also downgrading its EBITDA guidance for the 1H FY12.
Billabong shares were smashed by 44%, whilst JB Hi-Fi and Myer collapsed 7.2% and 6.2% respectively
The big banks weighed heavily on the market; Westpac was the hardest hit with a 2.2% loss.
Miners were hurt by lingering concerns over Europe and China; Rio dropped 2.6% while rival BHP fell 2.5%.
The ASX 200 tumbled 99 points (-2.4%), settling at 4060.