30/09/2008 - 08:09

Market in freefall on failed US bailout

30/09/2008 - 08:09


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Australian stocks suffered at the opening of trading on the Australian Securities Exchange, after the US House of Representatives rejected the $US700 billion rescue package.

Market in freefall on failed US bailout

Australian stocks suffered at the opening of trading on the Australian Securities Exchange, after the US House of Representatives rejected the $US700 billion rescue package.

At 1015 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 had fallen 207.2 points, or 4.3 per cent to 4,600.2, while the broader All Ordinaries was 210 points lower, or 4.34 per cent, at 4,629.2.

The December share price index futures contract was down by 278 points, to 4,574 on volume of 11,609 contracts.

As trading continued, so did the falls. At 1029 AEST, the market had seen its biggest fall since January 22 this year - the S&P 200 index down 298.5 points or 6.2 per cent to 4,540.7, the All ordinaries by 238.3 points, or 4.92 per cent, to 4569.1.

On January 22, the All Ordinaries fell 7.262 per cent and the S&P/ASX200 lost 7.053 per cent.

At 1029 AEST, the All Ordinaries market capitalisation had fallen about $63.5 billion.

The local finance sector was hit. Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell $2.25, or 5.17 per cent, to $41.62, while Westpac Banking Corporation dropped $1.15, or 4.92 per cent, to $22.00.

Third-ranked National Australia Bank plummeted $1.49, or 5.8 per cent to $24.20, while ANZ Banking Group fell $1.13, or 6.01 per cent, to $17.66.

Westpac takeover target St George Bank was $1.80 lower, or 5.86 per cent to $28.90, while recently-troubled bank and insurer Suncorp-Metway dropped $1.00, or 9.82 per cent, to $8.98.

In investment banking, Macquarie Group fell $5.08, or 13.71 per cent to $32.12, while Babcock & Brown plummeted 71 cents, or 30.21 per cent to $1.64.

Overnight, the Dow fell a record 777.7 points, or 6.98 per cent, to settle at 10,365.45.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fared worse, giving up 106.6 points, or 8.79 per cent to 1,106.4.

The NASDAQ, which carries tech and more recently listed heavyweights, took the brunt of it though losing 199.6 points, or 9.14 per cent to 1,983.7.

Metals majors also faced significant headwinds.

At 1027 AEST, BHP Billiton was down by $2.69, or 7.9 per cent to $31.55, while would-be takeover target Rio Tinto lost $8.70, or 9.7 per cent to $86.80.

CommSec markets analyst Juliette Saly said that the market was bathed in red.

"It could end up being one of the top-five worst days we've ever had on the Australian share market," Ms Saly said.

"There's not a lot of support at all, except for the gold stocks and a couple of the media stocks.

"The last worst day we had was January 22, also a Tuesday, which was down 7.3 per cent.

"In terms of percentage falls, the worst fall we've ever had was during the 1987 crash, which was a 25 per cent fall."

Crude was down by more than $US10 overnight, with the local energy sector seeing Woodside Petroleum down $3.17, or 5.79 per cent to $51.38, Santos shedding $1.19, or 6.04 per cent to $18.51 and mid-tier New Guinea producer Oil Search losing 38 cents, or 6.6 per cent to $5.35.

At 1032 AEST, spot gold was trading in Sydney at $US905.50 an ounce, up $US32.10 on yesterday's close of $US873.40.

In the local gold sector, Newcrest Mining was up 52 cents, or 1.82 per cent to $28.56, Newmont Mining went the other way by losing 10 cents, or 2.03 per cent to $4.82, while Lihir Gold added four cents, or 1.48 per cent, to $2.74.

In major media, Fairfax shed 13 cents, or 4.78 per cent to $2.59, while Consolidated Media dropped 13 cents, or 5.16 per cent to $2.39.

News Corporation gave up 82 cents, or 5.12 per cent to $15.21, while its non-voting scrip was down 81 cents, or 5.15 per cent to $14.91.

The biggest large-cap riser in percentage terms was United Group, which rose 34 cents, or 2.68 per cent to $13.05.

The biggest large-cap loser in percentage terms was Coal of Africa, which gave up 45 cents, or 21.43 per cent to $1.65.

The most traded stock by volume was Admiralty Resources, with 20.85 million units changing hands worth $1.03 million.

The explorer's shares gave up 1.2 cents, or 18.46 per cent to 5.3 cents.

Market turnover was 320.768 million shares, valued at $1.012 billion, with 53 stocks up, 951 down and 143 unchanged.



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