Australian stock market sinks, wiping out 2018 gains

Australia's leading share index tanked on Thursday, wiping out this year's gains as traders tracked a global sell-off, with financial services giant AMP plunging almost 25%.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 ended 2.83% down at 5 664.10 points, its lowest since October last year.

Resource and consumer-focused companies led the sell-off, which echoed Wednesday's action on markets from New York to London to Tokyo.

Lacklustre US corporate earnings, concerns about President Donald Trump's trade policies, the expectation of tighter monetary policy and geopolitical tensions have fuelled market unease.

"Investor confidence is hitting lower levels and with no real new positive news, the downside trend continued," said Nick Twidale of Rakuten Securities Australia.

AMP shares collapsed 24.47% to Aus$2.50 as it announced the sale of its insurance businesses to Resolution Life for Aus$3.3bn (US$2.3bn) and revealed massive cash outflows in the third quarter.

The firm was a key target of a royal commission of inquiry this year into abuses in the Australian financial services sector, accused of a raft of misconduct including charging clients for advice they never received.

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