Australia joined the global share slide today as news of the shock possible default by Dubai continued to rattle world markets.

Our market was off more than 3%, or 140 points for the main ASX 200 index at one stage in early trading, the biggest fall for five months, which wiped some $30 billion from the value of the market.

By midday, the selling had eased a touch and the market was off about 113 points, still 2.4%. Tokyo was down 2% in early trading

The news also saw oil prices ease, gold drop, the US dollar rise and the Australian dollar continue to fall, extending its drop to 2 US cents since Thursday.

The DT blog site, Alphaville published a handy list of UK personalities who had bought property in high-profile Dubai developments, and an even handier list of banks with loans extended to the troubled kingdom. HSBC tops the list with more than $US17 billion, Standard Chartered has more than $US6 billion. Dubai or UAE investment funds own small stakes in both banks. A headache for all so soon after the “ending” of the GFC.

The Japanese yen continued to rise against the dollar, reaching new 14-year highs, this time under the 85 Yen level. That was despite a third monthly improvement in Japanese unemployment to 5.1%, news that was offset by more bad news on deflation, with headline and core consumer price inflation figures again falling in October to under their levels of a year ago in 2008.

Locally, Metcash, the country’s biggest independent grocery and liquor wholesaler and retailer, revealed plans to join rivals Woolworths and Coles in the hardware sector by making an offer for 50.1% of the Mitre 10 chain.

Macquarie Media surprised the market by entering a trading halt for yet another capital raising. The slump made the move harder to organise.

The big banks all fell, as did BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

The ANZ said that it had no material exposure to Dubai World, the debt-laden key holding company of the Dubai Government.

“We work with a number of well established relationships throughout the Middle East but we do not believe there will be any material adverse impacts to these relationships as a result of the moratorium announced by Dubai World,” an ANZ spokesman said on Friday.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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