News: Midday: Aus shares plunge 2%

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    After negative offshore leads on global growth concerns, the Australian share market has plunged more than 2 per cent at noon. All sectors are in negative territory, with the retailers accelerating losses after another weak report card on the sector cut further into investor sentiment.  

    The S&P/ASX200 index has shed 93 points and is 4,341 at noon. On the futures market the SPI is 91 points lower.

    Economic news

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported that retail sales fell more than expected in June. Despite forecasts of a 0.4 per cent rise, retail sales fell 0.1 per cent in the month to $20.54 billion. The Australian Industry Group and Commonwealth Bank have revealed Australia’s service sector remained subdued in June. The performance of services index lifted 0.3 point to 48.8 in the month, coming in under 50 which is the level that separates growth from contraction.

    Company news

    Shares in Macquarie Group Limited (ASX:MQG) sunk up to 5 per cent this morning, after reports the company is moving to expand its investment banking business with private equity clients. The move is reportedly being implemented by new senior management appointments to its US financial sponsors practice within Macquarie Capital. Shares in Macquarie Group have sunk 4.96 per cent and are trading at $25.66.

    Charter Hall Office Real Estate Investment Trust (ASX:CQO) is finalising the sale of its US assets for around $1.7 billion to US-based Beacon Capital, that is according to The Australian who say, the company should be pleased with the price as it came in close to book value. Charter Hall this morning entered into a trading halt, it said, pending an announcement regarding the outcome of negotiations for the potential sale of its US assets. Shares in Charter Hall Office last traded at $3.30. 

    Best and worst performers

    All sectors have fallen into the red: The sector with the smallest losses is Telco Services, losing 8 points to 1,028. Shares in Enerji have risen 6.67 per cent and trading at $0.016. Shares in SingTel are higher, while shares in Amcom Telecommunications are steady. The worst performing sector is Consumer Discretionary shedding 29 points to 1,253. Shares in Noni B have dropped 6.25 per cent and trading at $0.45. Shares in Billabong International and News Corporation have also retreated.

    New Zealand

    The NZSX50 is 29 points lower. Taking a look at the top four stocks by turnover, Telecom Corporation of New Zealand is at the top of the list with stock down 0.37 per cent at $2.665 followed by Westpac, Sky City Entertainment Group and Fletcher Building.

    Gold and the dollar

    Gold is trading at $US1,654 an ounce. The Australian dollar is buying $US1.0702 cents.  

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