News: Market Wrap: Aus shares down

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    After a soft opening the sharemarket took a dip after lunch, plunging down to end 1.64 per cent lower.

    The S&P/ASX200 Index closed 67 points lower at 4,006. On the futures market, the SPI is down 78 points.

    Economic news

    The Asian Development Bank today trimmed its growth outlook for developing Asia. It said growth is expected to be 7.5 per cent in 2011 and 2012, down from its April forecasts of 7.8 and 7.7 per cent respectively.

    Consumer confidence recovered in September, attributed to economic growth underpinned by higher household confidence amid fading expectations of an interest rate rise this year. The latest Westpac and Melbourne Institute’s index of consumer sentiment read was up 8.1 per cent to 96.9 in September, after falling to a two-year low the month before.

    A report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed Australian dwelling starts fell 4.7 per cent in the second quarter from the first. Total dwelling commencements were down 18.6 per cent over the year to the end of June.

    The ABS also said the June quarter consumer price index was revised down to 0.6 per cent, from 0.9 per cent.

    Company news

    Sigma Pharmaceuticals Limited (ASX:SIP) reported a net profit of $26.65 million for the first half of fiscal 2012. The drug manufacturer said the improved result was because of improved operating performance, and lower interest costs. It declared a fully franked dividend of 1.5 cents per share. Shares in Sigma Pharmaceuticals Limited (ASX:SIP) gained 11.54 per cent, to close at 58 cents.

    West Australian premier Colin Barnett is said to be headed to Beijing tonight to save Murchison Metals Limited’s (ASX:MMX) Oakajee port and rail project. The premier’s hoping to find a Chinese investor after Murchison admitted it couldn’t fund its share of the project. Shares in Murchison Metals Limited’s (ASX:MMX) closed 2.68 per cent lower today at 54.5 cents.

    Macquarie Group Limited (ASX:MQG) has reportedly closed its Miami office, and shut down its Latin American fixed business. Bloomberg reports out today suggest the bank also made a number of staff cuts as part of the move.

    Tatts Group Limited’s (ASX:TTS) subsidiary, Maxgaming Vic, missed out on securing the licence for monitoring Victoria’s 27,000 gaming machines after August, bringing Tatt’s association with gaming in the state to an end.

    Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX:LEI) has a new MD of its wholly owned subsidiary, Theiss. Bruce Munro has been acting in the role for a month, and has previously held a number of senior positions with the company.


    And Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) may be considering a share buyback to appease shareholders who have hoped the company’s $11 billion deal over the NBN would result in a dividend hike.

    Best and worst performers

    The best performing sector was telcos, gaining 6.54 points to close at 1,036. The worst performing sector was healthcare, losing 220 points to close at 7,083.

    The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was Sigma Pharmaceuticals, lifting as we saw earlier by 11.54 per cent. Shares in AlacerGold and Platinum Asset Management finished the day stronger.

    The worst performing stock for the second day in a row is Cochlear, today it lost 14.64 per cent to close at $51.30. Lynas and Karoon also closed lower.


    Gold is trading at $US1,829 an ounce. Light Crude Oil is down $1.48 cents to $88.73 a barrel.

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