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Why these 4 shares are getting smashed today

The prospect of a September interest rate hike in the US has sent global markets into a tailspin and has resulted in the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX:XJO) falling by more than 2.2% today.

Unsurprisingly, every sector is trading in negative territory today with the biggest falls coming from the energy and materials sectors.

Although the vast majority of shares are being punished today, these four shares have particularly caught my attention:

Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd (ASX: SYD)

Shares of Sydney Airport have fallen by more than 3.2% today as investors look to lock in profits ahead of potentially higher interest rates. The lower interest rate environment has been a huge tailwind for the shares over the past few years with strong support coming from investors who have been attracted to the company’s relatively attractive and defensive dividend payout. Despite today’s heavy fall, I wouldn’t be surprised to see further losses in the short term as the market re-evaluates the shares in light of a higher interest rate environment.

Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG)

Shares of Macquarie have fallen by more than 4.2% today in response to the carnage witnessed on global markets over the weekend. Unlike the big four banks, Macquarie is far more leveraged to global asset markets with around 70% of its income generated from international markets. While this often proves to be a positive feature when global markets are stable, investors tend to be less comfortable owning the shares when markets become volatile.

Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST)

Shares of Northern Star have fallen by more than 5.5% today as investors continue to trim their exposure to gold ahead of potentially higher US interest rates. The shares are now trading more than 30% below their yearly highs, although most shares exposed to the safe haven asset have also suffered similar falls. Higher interest rates are typically seen as a negative for gold prices, as this increases the opportunity cost of holding the non-yielding asset.

Aconex Ltd (ASX: ACX)

Shares of Aconex have continued their recent slide today, falling another 4.5% to $5.70. The shares have now fallen by around 35% over the past six weeks with investors questioning whether or not there was too much blue sky built into the company’s valuation. This is unsurprising when you consider the company generated net profit after tax (NPAT) of less than $10 million in its last result, yet commands a market capitalisation in excess of $1.1 billion. Despite its recent fall, the shares have still gained 235% since listing in December 2014.

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Motley Fool contributor Christopher Georges owns shares of Macquarie Group Limited. 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.