Australian shares shed A$30 billion (NZ$37 billion) within minutes of the market opening today as investors reeled following a dive on Wall Street overnight.
The Australian dollar also plunged, hitting a two-year low against the yen and sinking against the greenback.
The benchmark S&P/ASX-200 index fell as much as 2.85 per cent, or 141.9 points, to 4837.6 soon after opening.
The market was pulled down by the big miners and the banks.
“It’s going to be a blood bath,” said Peter Strachan of StockAnalysis before the market opened. “People are just having to liquidate assets.”