(Adds Queensland Gas, updates indexes)
Australian shares fell 2.4 percent on Wednesday, mirroring a sell-off in equity markets worldwide after a tumble in China's main index stoked worries of a global economic slowdown.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index <.AXJO> lost 144.3 points to 5,849.5 by 0230 GMT. It had fallen as much as 3.45 percent earlier in the session, its biggest one-day percentage fall since Sept. 17, 2001 when it slipped 4.7 percent.
Among stocks that bucked the downward trend, Queensland Gas Ltd.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 Index <.NZ50> was also down, falling 78.82 points, or 1.9 percent, to 4,020.60, its biggest one-day percentage fall since May 2, 2003 when it fell 2.2 percent.
The top stock, Telecom Corp.
* Queensland Gas surged as much as 13.6 percent to A$1.545 after investment fund TCW Group Inc. launched an A$812 million ($644 million) bid for the Australian coal seam gas producer, trumping a rival bid by AGL Energy Ltd [ID:nSYD148444].
It last traded up 12.1 percent at A$1.525, above the A$1.51 per share that TCW is offering.
* Woolworths Ltd.
* Tattersall's Ltd.
"What triggered the sell-off (in global markets) does not have an impact on a number of stocks and that's why we are not seeing the likes of Woolworths and Tattersall falling," said Paul Xiradis, chief executive officer at boutique fund Ausbil Dexia.
* Australian electrical and furniture retailer Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd.
* Australia's Smorgon Steel Group Ltd.
* The top four banks fell, sending the financial services index <.AXFJ> down 166.8 points, or 2.4 percent.
National Australia Bank Ltd.
* Resource stocks with exposure to the China market were among the biggest decliners.
BHP Billiton Ltd.
* Australian contractor Lend Lease Corp. Ltd.
* Australia's Symbion Health Ltd.
* Australian energy infrastructure group Alinta Ltd.
* QBE Insurance Group Ltd.
2330 GMT ($1=A$1.27) ($1=NZ$1.43)