Mining Losers: Rio Tinto, Newmont - TheStreet

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Optimistic dispatches from the world's biggest mining concerns meant zilch in the face of Chinese banking policy Wednesday.

Shares of metal and minerals producers fell sharply in the session's early going, leading the broader equities markets lower.

The depth and breadth of the selloff was stiff, and the reasons obvious:

China's premier sent signals

Wednesday that his country, the planet's most substantial consumer of raw materials, would soon throttle back on the easy-money, low-interest-rate engines that had helped cause the robust economic growth in the People's Republic over the last few quarters.

On the back of that economic growth, China drank in the world's commodities at a historic pace. In 2009, the country imported some 630 million U.S. tons of iron ore. Now, investors fear they'll have to say goodbye to all that.

Meanwhile, the Chinese banking-policy news sent the U.S. dollar spiking,

which dragged down the price of precious metals

and, with them, the shares of gold and silver producers.

A sampling of the selloff:

The New York-listed issues of diversified giants

BHP Billiton

(BHP) - Get Report

,

Rio Tinto

(RTP)

and

Vale

(VALE) - Get Report

were lower by 4%, 5.8% and 3.8% respectively.

Copper giant

Freeport McMoRan

(FCX) - Get Report

, set to report quarterly results before the bell Thursday, lost 3.3%, while Aluminum giant

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Report

fell 2.4%.

Gold names felt the most hurt, with shares of Canadian majors

Barrick

(ABX)

and

GoldCorp

(GG)

falling by more than 5% apiece. The largest U.S. gold miner,

Newmont Mining

(NEM) - Get Report

, saw its shares decline by nearly 6%.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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