Australian stocks sank 3.5 per cent Friday in response to plunges in the United States and Europe, dpa reported.
The ASX 200 index lost 149 points, or 3.5 per cent, to 4,101.
Gold mining companies were among only eight counters registering
gains after the metal hit 1,550 US dollars an ounce.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) fell 4.5 per
cent, despite reporting a 16-per-cent lift in underlying profits for
the nine months to June 30.
When releasing the figures, ANZ chief executive Mike Smith
harangued policy makers in Europe and the United States for sovereign
debt problems affecting investor confidence.
"I think it's fair to say that right now this is all now very
delicately poised," Smith said. "I think further missteps from
European and US policy makers really risk converting the cracks in
their economies into a much deeper global system crisis which would
have worrying economic and social consequences."
Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group, despite reporting a
full-year net profit up 69 per cent on the previous reporting period,
saw its shares slide 5 per cent.
The hardest hit was clothing company Billabong, which slumped 24
per cent after it reported an 18-per-cent fall in profits.