ASX 200 falls as blue chips plunge

The first day of trading in December saw the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) plunge to its lowest level in seven weeks on Monday, closing down 40.5 points or 0.8% at 5279.5 points after it was weighed down heavily by a basket-full of blue chips.

The miners and banks led the decline with ANZ (ASX: ANZ), Westpac (ASX: WBC), NAB (ASX: NAB) and Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) all falling between 0.2% and 1.3% whilst BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP), Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) and Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) dropped between 0.3% and 1.9%.

The falls weren’t contained to the mining and bank sectors however. Westfield Group (ASX: WDC), Crown Resorts (ASX: CWN), Suncorp (ASX: SUN), Insurance Australia Group (ASX: IAG) and CSL (ASX: CSL) also declined 1.1% and 2.1%.

The value of share trading swelled to $4.5 billion which, “given the magnitude of the fall, on the first day of the month”, suggests that there may be a sizeable sell portfolio, according to Goldman Sachs institutional trader Richard Coppleson. He added that a number of upcoming initial public offerings, including Nine Entertainment and travel insurer Cover-More Group, could also have contributed towards the fall.

Whilst it is expected that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will keep interest rates on hold at 2.5% on Tuesday, quiet trading conditions are expected for the day.

Foolish takeaway

Having fallen to 5279.5 points, the benchmark index is sitting 3.3% below its high of 5457.3 points which was achieved late in October. Whilst it is never nice to watch the overall value of our portfolios decrease, investors should embrace such a fall as an opportunity to buy underappreciated shares at cheaper valuations that could deliver fantastic gains in the long term.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

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