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Aust market loses $36 billion as banks smashed -

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ELEANOR HALL: Now to the latest dismal performance from the Australian share market.

Tens of billions of dollars in value has been erased today as the local market responded to the steep falls on Wall Street and across Europe.

Investors are concerned that the falling oil price and slowing global growth could take markets into a deeper downturn.

Joining us now is business editor Peter Ryan.

So Peter, which stocks are being hardest hit today?

PETER RYAN: Well Eleanor, this is all about the banking sector and concerns about the stability of the banking sector, and the view is that some banks may well be exposed to energy companies which have been reeling from the lower oil prices you mentioned, and that ultimately if things get worse, banks might have trouble pulling their outstanding loans back in.

So all up, the big four Australian banks are down, Westpac down 3.6 per cent, the NAB 3.8 per cent, ANZ 3.2 per cent and the Commonwealth 2.2 per cent.

But even worse is the second-tier banks - Bendigo and Adelaide Bank down 4.6 per cent and the Bank of Queensland down 6.7 per cent in late morning trade.

Now the Bank of Queensland told the ASX this morning it was planning to "refine its operating model and implement major cost savings", but that will not be included in this year's full year earnings.

Now the lower oil price, which is causing concerns about the banks, we've seen West Texas Intermediate crude go back under $US30 a barrel - that hurt BHP Billiton, which is down 2.8 per cent, but even more, Santos down 4.6 per cent.

The wash-up here is that the All Ordinaries index is down 2.2 per cent in late morning trade, and that equates to around $36 billion in value wiped off the market just this morning.

ELEANOR HALL: As you often say, a sea of red. Is there any other colour on the market today?

PETER RYAN: Well one bright spot Eleanor is the gold producer Newcrest, which is up by more than 8 per cent.

Now it's higher because in times of distress investors put their money where they think it's going to be safe and that happens to be gold, which is up around $15 to $US1,191 an ounce.

So while there are mostly losers today, there are also a few winners and gold appears to be back in favour, but for all the wrong reasons.

ELEANOR HALL: How are these extraordinary losses affecting confidence levels of Australians running businesses?

PETER RYAN: Well the latest business confidence survey from the National Australia Bank was released late this morning as those losses were taking a toll, and it's saying confidence is actually holding up from the previous survey despite all the global volatility.

NAB economist Riki Polygenis says it's steady as she goes despite recent easings in business conditions and business confidence.

RIKI POLYGENIS: Overall, both are holding up pretty well in the face of recent financial market volatility and they are suggesting that the non-mining economy is still looking quite resilient.

So that suggests to us that while financial market volatility might be on the minds of many businesses, the fact that actual business conditions are holding up does suggest that that's giving businesses some reassurance at the moment.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the National Australia Bank economist Riki Polygenis.

It's been a disappointing day for Rupert Murdoch's film and entertainment business, 21st Century Fox too, hasn't it Peter? Tell us about those results.

PETER RYAN: Well yes, this is a closely watched corporate event and mainly today because both James and Lachlan Murdoch were on the investor teleconference.

Fox has reported lower than expected quarterly revenue and that's mainly due to a decline in its DVD sales for home viewing, with the release of "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes".

And revenue from Fox's filmed entertainment business fell by around 14 per cent to US$2.36 billion, although cable TV is the bright spot with Fox News and the National Geographic Channels doing well.

And all this saw Fox shares fall 2.5 per cent in after hours trading.

Now of course 21st Century Fox is now competing in a world of streaming entertainment such as Netflix and it's all very challenging, but Fox's chief executive James Murdoch says the basics never really change and that while platforms are important, content remains king.

JAMES MURDOCH: I think in the future as we do today we're going to see a continued competition for talent, continued competition for storytellers and a continued appetite for various players to invest and there'll be multiple internet TV companies doing that including our own.

I don't think the investment in technology necessarily has a bearing on that creative output or that competitive dynamic but it clearly does have a bearing on the products set for customers, how good they are and how you can monetise there as well.

ELEANOR HALL: That's James Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox.

Now just back to the markets, Peter, they're now open in Asia - are we also seeing big falls there?

PETER RYAN: Yes and the main Nikkei index in Japan has been down as much as 4.4 per cent, and a major factor there is the shift to negative interest rates from the Bank of Japan, which was a major shock to markets just a few weeks ago.

Now the Chinese market is closed this week for Lunar New Year, but the view is that without that, the losses across Asia and maybe around the world would be a lot steeper.

ELEANOR HALL: Peter Ryan, our business editor, thank you.