The S&P/ASX 200 index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has closed down 1.7%, following weak leads from offshore markets and a report by Deloitte Access Economics, that suggests the mining boom has only two years left to run. Investors took flight and deserted stocks en mass, either fleeing the market altogether or switching to defensive stocks.

All sectors, except consumer discretionary were down, with gold, resources, materials and metals and mining sectors all posting losses of more than 3%.

Company News

Woolworths today reported a 4.7% rise in total sales compared to last year, thanks mainly to new stores, higher average petrol prices and stock clearance sales in its Dick Smith Electronics division. The market liked the result with shares ending up 1%. Price deflation remains a major issue as I outlined here.

Intrepid Mines was the biggest loser in the ASX 200, falling by 55%, after its Indonesian partner stopped operations without advising Intrepid. I covered the story in more detail here.

Leighton Holdings Limited’s (ASX: LEI) wholly owned subsidiary Thiess Pty Ltd, announced that it been awarded a $2.3 billion contract to extend mining operations at Jellinbah Group’s Lake Vermont coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen basin. The company’s share price was down 1.9% in a falling market.

Winners and Losers

Just  9 stocks in the ASX 200 posted positive gains today with Singapore Telecommunications (ASX: SGT) – owner of Optus, the best performer in the ASX 200, rising 1.2%. Dexus Property Group (ASX: DXS) was the only other ASX 200 stock to post a rise of more than 1%.

Of the majors, Wesfarmers and Sydney Airport Holdings (ASX: SYD) also posted positive gains as investors perhaps seek safer havens for their cash.

Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG), BlueScope Steel Limited (ASX: BSL) and Toll Holdings Limited (ASX: TOL) were the worst of the top 50 stocks, posting falls of 7.1%, 5.3% and 5.1% respectively.

Foolish takeaway

Fear has gripped the market, and we may yet see more days like today. As Warren Buffett famously said “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”. Now is not the time to sell, and in the days ahead we may see several quality companies being offered at knock down prices.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. The Motley Fool‘s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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