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The Australian share market fell steeply in the opening minutes of trade this morning as investors factored in the impact of Europe's debt turmoil and the US credit downgrade.
The market opens in alphabetical order, and BHP Billiton and some of the major banks have hinted at falls of around 2 per cent on the broader market. Earlier New Zealand's main share index had opened around 2 per cent lower, but was down 3.25 per cent just before 10:00am (AEST).
Futures trading for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all fell more than 2.5 per cent this morning, in the first US trading since Standard and Poor's downgraded the US credit rating to AA+. The Australian dollar was slightly lower at 104 US cents.