Australian markets fall after further losses in US

Australian markets plunged Thursday, following more declines on Wall Street as gloom continues to permeate the global financial system. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell more than 4 percent to 3,757.2 points in the first 15 minutes of trade and the broader All Ordinaries declined 4 percent to 3,727.9. Australia's markets are among the first in Asia to open, and traders often watch them closely for signs of what might happen elsewhere in the region. Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were significantly lower Thursday - BHP by more than 8 percent and Rio Tinto by almost 6.5 percent - after further falls in commodity prices overnight.