19/12/2008 - 10:22

Market still in the red despite rally

19/12/2008 - 10:22

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The Australian sharemarket was weaker at noon, dragged down by losses in the materials and energy sectors.

Market still in the red despite rally

The Australian sharemarket was weaker at noon, dragged down by losses in the materials and energy sectors.

At 1200 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 31.8 points points, or 0.89 per cent, at 3549.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 30.2 points, or 0.86 per cent, at 3491.5 points.

At open, the indices were down nearly 2 per cent.

On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the March share price index futures contract was down 32 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 3540 points on a volume of 9,814 contracts.

Intersuisse director of equities Andrew Sekely said the market was doing well after a weak lead from Wall St.

"Considering what happened in the US, which was down two and half per cent, the market is behaving itself very well," Mr Sekely said.

"If it wasn't for BHP and Rio in particular, the index would probably be up.

"In consideration of what happened in the States, that would be a very good performance indeed."

At 1201 AEDT, BHP Billiton had lost $1.04, or 3.35 per cent, to $29.96 while Rio Tinto was down 92 cents, or 2.3 per cent, at $39.08.

Following a slump in oil prices overnight, energy stocks all fell.

Woodside Petroleum dropped $1.92, or 5.68 per cent, to $31.89, Santos lost 15 cents, or 1.06 per cent to $13.95 and Oil Search was down 34 cents, or 7.57 per cent, to $4.15.

Among the gold miners, Newcrest Mining gained $1.92, or 6.32 per cent, to $32.28, Newmont Mining dropped 12 cents, or 2.4 per cent, to $5.48, and Lihir Gold added four cents, or 1.46 per cent, to $2.78.

At 1208 AEDT, the spot price of gold in Sydney was $US846 per fine ounce, down $US19 on Thursday's close of $US865.00.

Making headlines today, Commonwealth Bank of Australia has told the Australian Securities Exchange it did not believe that information concerning its 2009 bad and doubtful debt expense was material to the company and required disclosure.

CBA shares were up 36 cents, or 1.36 per cent, to $26.86.

The other major banks were mixed with National Australia Bank dropping 45 cents, or 2.27 per cent, at $19.37, ANZ down three cents at $14.24 and Westpac up 37 cents, or 2.32 per cent, to $16.31.

British Airways and Qantas Airways called off their merger talks on Thursday after failing to agree on terms.

Qantas shares were up nine cents, or 3.7 per cent, at $2.52.

In other company news, PaperlinX says a delay in asset sales has caused a breach in a loan agreement and affected earnings.

At 1217 AEDT, shares in the paper maker were down 30.5 cents, or 28.77 per cent, at 75.5 cents.

Oz Minerals Ltd shares remain in suspension as the gold and base metals producer considers offers to buy some of its assets or a capital raising to ease its liquidity issues.

The company announced on Friday it will close its flagship Avebury nickel mine in Tasmania with the loss of 189 jobs, due to the low price of the metal.

Oz Mineral shares last traded in November at 55 cents.

In media, Ten Network Holdings shares added one cent to $1.02, while Seven Network shares were up eight cents, or 1.24 per cent, at $6.54.

News Corp was up eight cents at $12.87, while its non-voting scrip was up nine cents at $12.05 and Fairfax was down four cents, or 2.6 per cent, at $1.50.

Among the retailers, Woolworths was up 56 cents, or 2.21 per cent, at $25.91, David Jones was up two cents at $2.99 and Coles owner Wesfarmers was up 62 cents, or 3.74 per cent, at $17.18.

At 1224 AEDT, GPT Group was the most traded stock, with 404 million shares changing hands for a value of $382.6 million.

Shares in the investment property company were down 4.5 cents, or 4.74 per cent, at 90.5 cents.

Market turnover was 1.1 billion shares, worth $4.7 billion, with 296 stocks up, 409 stocks down and 243 unchanged.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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