Nerves surrounding China's economic growth coupled with escalating tensions in the Ukraine have pushed the Australian share market to its worst week this year.

Over the five trading days the benchmark S&P/ASX200 Index lost 132.9 points, or 2.4 per cent, to finish at 5329.4. The broader All Ordinaries Index fell 129.2 points, or 2.4 per cent, to 5347.1.

Friday marked the indices' worst sessions in more than a month, with the ASX200 and All Ordinaries dropping 1.5 per cent.

The sell-off on Friday was broad-based, with 182 of the top 200 stocks losing ground.

"The reporting season was pretty strong, but investors are saying 'well, what's going to be the thing to send the market forward into the future?' and there's not a lot on the horizon, other than economic data flow to grab hold on. And that's notoriously unpredictable," JBWere executive director Mike Kendall said.

Following the close of the local market on Thursday, a deluge of economic data from China was released, including industrial production, retail sales, and fixed assets investments, all of which missed expectations.

Investors continued to worry about the tensions in Ukraine, with a referendum over the weekend to decide on whether Crimea will begin moving towards becoming part of the Russian Federation.

Markets across the globe suffered heavy losses, with the Eurostoxx sliding 1.5 per cent, London's FTSE falling 1 per cent and Germany's Dax plummeting 1.9 per cent.

Wall Street ignored better-than-expected advance retail sales, as the S&P500 dropped 1.2 per cent, the Dow Jones losing 1.4 per cent and the Nasdaq slipping 1.5 per cent.

"Valuations have moved ahead of earnings so we need a period where earnings will catch up a bit," Perpetual portfolio manager Matt Williams said.

"We've been hovering around 5200 and 5400 on the index for a little while now, since November we've sort of oscilated between 5000 and 5400; we've touched 5000 twice in that time, and 5400 almost three times," Mr Williams said.

Iron ore had a rough week, falling 8.3 per cent in one day, before recovering to finish the week down just 2.4 per cent at $US111.50 per tonne. The flash crash was attributed to a deleveraging event in China, where the metal has been used as collateral in financing arrangements to keep unprofitable steel mills in operation. Copper, which has been involved in similar deals has incurred heavy losses, sliding 5.3 per cent to $2.92 per pound, as collateral holders scrambled to get rid of the metal as its value dropped.

As a result, Australian miners were in the firing line of investors. For the week, BHP Billiton lost 5.5 per cent to $35.66, Rio Tinto dropped 5.3 per cent to $61.50 and Fortescue Metals took an 8.3 per cent hit to finish at $4.98.

Shares in rare earths miner Lynas plummeted 21.3 per cent to 24¢ during the week, an almost five-year low, after a heavy first-half loss which triggered a warning from its auditor about its continued ability to trade. Rare earth prices have slumped since peaking in 2011, squeezing Lynas's margins and forcing it to look for extra funding.

Lend Lease shares fell 1.7 per cent to $11.32 following a fire at its $6 billion Barangaroo development in Sydney. It is likely the property group has insurance but the fire, which covered Sydney's central business district in smoke, will cause delays.

Shares in Leighton Holdings gained 3.1 per cent to $21.37, following the increase of a takeover offer from Hochtief, which raised its conditional bid to $22.50 per cent. However, following unusual trading in Leighton shares last week, the Australian Securities and Exchange Commission said it will investigate the possibility of insider trading. Following the announcement of the increased bid, chief executive Hamish Tyrwhitt and chief financial officer Peter Gregg quit their positions.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce fronted a Senate inquiry on Friday, as the Abbott government looks to relax the Qantas Sale Act to allow a larger percentage of the airline to be foreign-owned. Qantas claims its main domestic rival Virgin is funded by three state-backed shareholders, referring to Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand. Qantas's shares slumped 4.8 per cent to $1.085.