The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) is getting absolutely hammered today.

The main bourse fell immediately after the opening bell and the situation has only worsened since. It’s sitting 114 points or 2.3% lower at 4,861 points as at the time of writing, putting it on track to fall to its lowest level in two-and-a-half years (its current low is 4,803 points).

Source: Google Finance

Source: Google Finance

Indeed, the sell-off has been taken to a new level today after a horror night for equity markets around the world. The banks and miners have both been smashed while there are few shares actually trading in the black for the day.

National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX: NAB) shares have shed 4.1% while shares of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) have all plunged between 2.3% and 3.5%.

Meanwhile, South32 Ltd (ASX: S32) shares are down 5.1%, BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) has retreated 2.9% to $15.90 and Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) is trading 5% lower as well.

It’s a different story in the gold sector. Shares of companies like Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM), EVOLUTION FPO (ASX: EVN) and Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST) have soared between 7.8% and 9.1% as investors rush to the ‘safety’ of gold.

Sundance Energy Australia Ltd (ASX: SEA) and WHITEHAVEN COAL LIMITED (ASX: WHC) are two of the worst performers on the market so far, down 10% and 7.1% respectively.

Foolish takeaway

Although the share market is having a shocking day – and indeed, a shocking start to 2016 – investors should focus on the opportunities in the market, rather than the threats. Yes, there are sectors I would avoid which appear much riskier than others, but when investors throw high-quality businesses out with the bath water, it could be a great time for you to make a move.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ASXvalueinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.