Australian shares down on global growth concerns, miners sink
(Updates to open)
SYDNEY, April 18 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell 0.5 percent in early trade on Thursday, as the mood was soured by a sharp drop in commodities prices and increasing worries about global growth and demand for Australia's raw materials.
Global miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto Ltd dropped 3.1 percent each.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 22.5 points to 4,982.1 by 0010 GMT. The benchmark rose 1.1 percent on Wednesday. Broad losses on Wall Street overnight also kept buyers at bay.
Copper, considered a barometer for manufacturing and China-related growth, fell more than 3 percent overnight, weighed by worries about the global economy and a 10.3 percent decline in March European car sales, a key source of metals demand.
The Australian market has been on the backfoot in recent sessions as soft data from the United States and its biggest export market China hit sentiment.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.4 percent, or 16.5 points, to 4,462. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)