$114 billion wiped off the share market so far in 2016

Over the past 7 days, the ASX has seen the value of all the shares listed sink by a whopping $114 billion.

According to various media sources, it’s the worst start to a year in history for the ASX, as falling global markets and concerns over China weigh on our market.

Australia is tightly tied to China – with the Asian country importing a large portion of our most valuable resources (iron ore and coal predominantly), the thousands if not millions of Chinese tourists flocking to Australia, as well as Chinese investment into Australian properties and businesses.

The crashing share market in China hasn’t helped either.

It’s no surprise then that two of the biggest losers on the ASX are resources giants BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) – losing $12 billion and $7.4 billion of their market value and their share prices falling to $15.55 and $40.50 respectively.

The big four banks Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) haven’t fared much better, losing a combined $31 billion in value.

That continues the theme from towards the end of 2015, where banks and resources shares were out of favour.

Perhaps surprisingly, oil and gas companies haven’t seen their share prices hammered as much in 2016, despite oil looking like it’s heading under US$30 a barrel. Media reports suggest this might be due to the market expecting oil prices to recover somewhat – although there appears to be little basis for that expectation.

Importantly for investors, the sell-off is so far based primarily on fear of what might happen, rather than actual news coming in from companies – unless you hold Austal Limited (ASX: ASB) or iSelect Ltd (ASX: ISU) that is.

Foolish takeaway

The investing mantra hasn’t changed, despite the sell off – buy quality companies at cheap to fair prices, hold for the long term, reinvest your dividends and add money regularly to the market. Most investors can safely ignore the sell-off so far this year – unless you are looking to buy quality stocks on sale. Get your watchlists ready.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. 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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