SYDNEY: Australian shares slipped 0.8 percent on Thursday, with big miners leading losses after Wall St fell on worries about protracted US budget negotiations and rising violence in the Middle East.
BHP Billiton dragged on the index, dropping 1.5 percent as it looks to control costs in a softer iron ore market, while rival Rio Tinto shed 2.1 percent.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was 33 points lower at 4,355.4 by 0051 GMT. It inched up 0.2 percent on Wednesday, but is still down 3.6 percent so far this month.
"It's just a follow-through risk seen from US markets. Of course we did just see a sharp selloff on Wall Street as we approach that fiscal cliff," said Stan Shamu, market analyst at IG Markets.
"It just seems that there's not much confidence out there." he said.
Banks were also weak, with top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia down 1.1 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.1 percent to 3,951.6 points.