The Australian stock market is trading notably lower on Friday with investors pressing sales across the board, tracking weak cues from the U.S. and European markets amid renewed worries about the financial situation in the eurozone.
Mining and energy stocks are among the prominent losers. Financial, consumer staples and industrial stocks are also mostly trading lower.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 4,212.7, is currently trading at 4,230.6, down 38.9 points or 0.9 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 38.6 points or 0.9 percent at 4,251.5, off the day's low of 4,235.1.
BHP Billiton Limited (BHP: Quote,BBL: Quote) shares are down 1.6 percent after the company said it has to write down the value of its American shale gas assets by A$2.73 billion, forced by a glut of gas supply in the United States and subsequent low gas prices there.
Rio Tinto (RIO: Quote,RIO.L) is down 3.5 percent, Fortescue Metals is trading lower by 2.6 percent and Newcrest Mining is down with a loss of 2 percent.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum is down 1.5 percent, Santos is trading lower by 1.8 percent and Caltex Australia is down with a loss of 3.2 percent, while Oil Search and Origin Energy are trading lower by 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank , Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank are down 0.3 to 0.7 percent, while Westpac (WBK) is losing about 1.2 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are also trading weak.
Boart Longyear is down as much as 6.3 percent. Arrium is down 4.4 percent. Panaust, Sims Metal Management, Oz Minerals and Lynas Corporation are trading lower by 3 to 4 percent.
Campbell Brothers, Bluescope Steel, Atlas Iron, Alumina (AWC), Leighton Holdings, Monadelphous Group, Aurora Oil & Gas, Treasury Wine Estates and Amcor are all trading lower by 2 to 3 percent.
ResMed (RMD: Quote) is up more than 7 percent. ResMed's annual profit rose 12 percent thanks to stronger revenue in the United States. Profit in the final three months of the financial year was up 31 percent from the previous corresponding period to A$76.8 million, the company said.
On the economic front, Australia's services sector continued to contract in July, the Australian Industry Group reported Friday. The AIG/Commonwealth Bank Performance of Services index fell to 46.5 from the June reading of 48.8.
AIG said declines in sales and new orders sent the sector further into contraction. The employment category was also weaker, falling 4.8 index points to 44.3.
"The fall in the PSI for July highlights the fragility of business conditions in the services sector which is struggling to build momentum," said AIG Chief Executive Innes Willox.
On Wall Street, stocks drifted lower on Thursday, extending the downward move seen over the course of the three previous sessions. A negative reaction to the latest headlines out of Europe contributed to the continued weakness on Wall Street.
The major averages climbed well off their worst levels going into the close but still ended the day in the red. The Dow ended down 92.2 points or 0.7 percent at 12,878.9, the Nasdaq declined 10.4 points or 0.4 percent to 2,909.8 and the S&P 500 dropped 10.1 points or 0.7 percent to 1,365.
Major European markets too ended weak on Thursday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index lost 0.9 percent, while the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index plummeted by 2.2 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil ended sharply lower on Thursday, due largely on concerns over the eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Crude for September delivery shed $1.78 or 2 percent to close at $87.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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