Changes are afoot in broking circles.

The traditional, amply padded, cigar-chewing stockbrokers are now retiring; replaced by a generation of hawk-faced triathletes with commerce degrees.

The smell of fear when markets turn sinister hasn’t changed though.

The mood varies from mild panic to capitulation, with many market participants still shell-shocked from the 2008 collapse.

Things started well enough this morning, with the local bourse picking up around 25 points.

Then the rot set in, with the All Ords closing 55 points in the red.

The young brokers have been flat out processing margin calls, which do little to ease an already fragile market. Plenty of novice investors are now learning the perils of piling up debt as a means of entering the share market.

Gunns was close to the worst performer of the day again, hitting 20 cents which puts it in the penny dreadful basket.

There was a reprieve of sorts in the afternoon, with a trading halt called until Julia and Lara nut out how to transfer taxpayer funds to the near-insolvent logger. Murdoch-backed Dow Jones newswire suggested the position could get much worse if the logger looks to sell equity to fund the pulp mill.

After market close, mining colossus RIO announced first half earnings of $11 billion, warning that European debt problems were clouding the outlook. Analysts might not be pleased with that $11 billion figure, hoping for closer to $13 billion.

In overseas markets, the US again looks touchy, although Apple and Google might be popular enough with investors to hold the market up for most of the session.

Ed: Gunns Ltd Share Price HERE