The Australian sharemarket was sharply lower mid-session as weaker metal prices led to falls for the materials sector.
At 9.01am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 45.7 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 5063 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 47.1 points, or 0.92 per cent, to 5067.3 points.
On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was down 43 points at 5030 points, with 18,539 contracts traded.
CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said the fall in the Australian market was being led by the materials sector.
"We're seeing those pull backs in the growth related areas, energy stocks are under pressure, gold stocks are under pressure, materials stocks generally are under pressure," he said.
"That suggests that the weaker metal prices coming out of China are having an impact on our market and no doubts the weak leads we saw from overseas markets are also having an impact."
US stocks closed sharply lower after the Federal Reserve released minutes from its latest monetary policy meeting showing officials were split over its asset-purchases programs.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 108.13 points (0.77 per cent) at 13,927.54.
In Europe at close, London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies gained 0.26 per cent to 6395.37 points while Frankfurt's DAX 30 dipped by 0.30 per cent to 7728.90 points and in Paris the CAC 40 fell 0.69 per cent to 3709.88 points
Locally a computer glitch at the Australian Securities Exchange delayed the reporting of key market indices at the start of trade this morning, but the problem was resolved by 7.30am, brokers said.
The mining giants were all lower mid-session.
BHP Billiton was $1.16 lower to $37.49, Rio Tinto dived $1.50 to $67.89 and Fortescue fell 12 cents to $4.80.
Energy producer and retailer Origin Energy said it fears its full year earnings will drop by up to 15 per cent after its interim profit fell by a third.
Origin shares plummeted $1.05, or 8.48 per cent, to $11.33.
Embattled media group Fairfax says gloomy conditions in the advertising market were still dragging on its revenues after it reported a net profit of $386.3 million during the first half, up from $97.6 million in the previous corresponding period.
Fairfax shares dipped 1.25 cents, or 2.29 per cent, to 53.25 cents.
Qantas nearly tripled its first half profit as it started to realise the benefits of recent tough decisions.
The airline's shares increased by 8.5 cents, or 5.4 per cent to $1.70.
Alumina's shares fell 1.5 cents to $1.235 after its net loss for the 12 months to December 31 tripled to $US152.9 million.National turnover was 686.46 million securities worth $1.95 billion.
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