Stock prices tumbled in early trading in the Australian stock market as investors took cues from Wall Street and went on a selling spree. Energy, consumer discretionary, consumer staples, financials, healthcare, industrials and materials stocks are down in negative terrain with sharp losses. Information technology stocks are trading mixed while telecommunications have bucked the trend and are trading marginally higher.

The benchmark Australian index S&P/ASX 200 opened on a negative note and went down by over 100 points in early trading, but is currently down 91 points at 3678. The All Ordinaries benchmark is down 88 points or at 3634.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ Bank, National Australian Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation are trading 2% - 3.5% down from their last closing prices. Macquarie Group is down by around 4% now.

Materials stocks BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto and energy stock Woodside Petroleum are also trading sharply lower this morning.

The Australian dollar has strengthened against the greenback and is trading at 0.7020 to the U.S. dollar in the Asian session.

Other markets in the Asia-Pacific region are also trading weak. The Nikkei index of the Japanese market is down 3% or 275 points at 8650 now.

Heavy selling in financials sent Wall Street tumbling down to a dismal close yesterday even as Bank of America exceeded expectations by reporting better-than-expected quarterly earnings. The bank's credit loss provisions, which went up almost $7 billion to $13.4 billion in the first quarter, triggered a sell-off in bank stocks.

Sun Microsystems had a splendid outing after Oracle announced it would acquire the company for $9.50 per share, a premium of over 40% to the stock's closing price last week. The intensity of selling was so severe that the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq went crashing by as much as 290 points and 65 points, respectively.

Crude oil plummeted nearly 9% on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday amid further concerns over energy demands. Light sweet crude for May delivery dropped $4.45 to $45.88 per barrel, posting its lowest close in five weeks and falling below a trading range that lasted nearly a month.

Most of the Asian markets had bounced back yesterday after exhibiting some weakness in early trading.

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