S&P/ASX 200 falls as fear spreads: Should you panic?

The local S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) plunged below the 5000 point mark shortly after the market opened this morning.

Again it was weak commodity prices dragging on the market’s sentiment while investors were also likely reacting to the terrorist attacks that hit Paris over the weekend. After sliding as much as 1.4% to a low of 4979 points however, the benchmark index has since fought back to trade just 0.6% lower around midday.

The gold miners have been amongst the market’s biggest winners, presumably due to the fact gold is often considered a ‘safe-haven’ during times of high uncertainty. Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM) rose 5.4% while EVOLUTION FPO (ASX: EVN) and Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST) lifted 4% and 2.7%, respectively.

The banks, on the other hand, were on the market’s chopping board. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) and National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX: NAB) both lost more than 1%, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) shed 0.7% and 0.9% each.

Although Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) and Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) extended their declines, BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) was a surprise winner for the day. The shares fell more than 1% early but are now sitting 1.2% higher at $20.47 per share, giving investors some much needed reprieve.

Unfortunately, there is no telling whether the market has further to fall from here, so investors need to ensure they’re prepared in case conditions do worsen. In saying that however, the market is currently trading near its lowest level since mid-2013, meaning now could be an excellent opportunity to begin buying shares in some of the high-quality companies you’ve had your eye on recently.

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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.

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