International markets were sharply weaker overnight amid a collection of worrying news out of Europe.
A new report showed that European government debt continues to pile up despite severe budget cuts, which have led to unrest and political upheaval across the continent.
The UK’s FTSE 100 slumped 107 points (-1.9%) to settle at 5666, whilst the CAC (-2.8%) and DAX (-3.4%) endured much steeper declines.
Stateside, the Dow Jones slipped 102 points (-0.8%) to settle at 12927, whilst the S&P 500 (-0.8%) and Nasdaq (-1%) suffered similar falls.
The Aussie dollar got caught up in the risk off sentiment, trading down to a low of US$1.027 before recovering slightly to currently be holding just above the 1.03 handle.
Elsewhere, the euro fell for the first time in five sessions against the yen amid concern French presidential elections and Dutch government turmoil will disrupt efforts to stem the region’s sovereign-debt crisis.
Oil declined as manufacturing shrank in China and the euro area, bolstering concern that fuel consumption will diminish. Crude shed 0.8% to settle at US$103.10 a barrel.
Gold declined to a two-week low as a stronger US dollar curbed demand for the metal as an alternative investment. Bullion lost 0.2% to settle at US$1639 an ounce.
In company news, gold miner Newcrest has cut its full year output target following heavy rains and production disruptions at key operations.
Today’s session will bring us the important CPI and trimmed mean CPI numbers at 11:30am, AEST.