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'Second worst day of 2018': How the market finished up on Thursday

All that glittered on Australian markets was gold as the ASX ended its second worst day of the year after a “perfect storm” on Wall Street caused heavy stock losses across every other sector.

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After plunging at the opening, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index slid down 166 points, or 2.74 per cent, to 5883.8 points at 1615 AEDT on Thursday, while the broader All Ordinaries is down 170.4 points, or 2.76 per cent, at 5993.4.

The SPI200 futures index was down 165 points, or 2.74 per cent, at 5858 while the Aussie dollar battled against the tide to be worth 70.74 US cents, up from 70.44 at the close on Wednesday.

Tech stocks were among the biggest losers on Thursday, with Aussie tech payments company Afterpay sliding 11%, with fellow techie Appen also haemorrhaging. Afterpay’s latest decline means the payment solutions company’s shares have lost around 20% of their value since this time last week and are now down 39% from their all-time high of $23.00.

Fortescue Metals Group was one of the only shares bucking the downward trend today, after it launched a share buyback program of up to $500 million ($US355 million), joining bigger rival Rio Tinto in handing back cash to shareholders.

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The program will begin after the iron ore miner releases its quarterly report on October 25 and will remain in place for a period of up to 12 months.

Wesfarmers shares were also down amid the news it has appointed a new managing director to run office supplies business Officeworks.

The Perth-based conglomerate has tapped Sarah Hunter, who is currently overseeing the business’ spin-off of supermarket Coles, to take over from Mark Ward.