EVENING REPORT (4.30pm AEDT)
The local market had its second worst day of the year; is trading at a one month low and recorded its worst week in three months. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) fell 1.5 per cent today, taking the losses this week to 2.37 per cent (worst week in three months).
The main driver of markets over the past five sessions has been concerns relating to the Chinese economy. Last Saturday China recorded a more than US$20 billion monthly trade deficit, the price of iron ore fell by 9 per cent on Monday and three economic reports on Thursday fell short of forecasts. Despite the initial slump in the iron ore price this week, prices finished only 2.5 per cent softer by the end of the week.
The miners slumped 2.37 per cent today and close to 5 per cent over the past five sessions. BHP Billiton (BHP) dropped 2.03 per cent, Rio Tinto (RIO) slipped by 2.5 per cent and Fortescue Metals (FMG) fell 2.7 per cent. The three miners combined wiped out around 13 points from the All Ordinaries Index (XAO).
Adelaide Brighton (ABC) slumped by 13.59 per cent today after warning that a contract to supply up to 120,000 tonnes of cement per year could be cut back or lost. This could result in a potential $15m profit hit.
Uranium miner Energy Resources (ERA) slumped by 1.92 per cent and is still 77 per cent lower than at the start of March 2011; before Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster hit. ERA's Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary Mr Steeve Thibeault resigned today.
The gold producers were amongst the lone improvers earlier in the day; however joined the selling this afternoon. Newcrest Mining (NCM), Australia's biggest gold miner fell by 2.02 per cent today.
The major banks fell by as much as 1.7 per cent, with Westpac (WBC) the biggest loser by the close. The telcos slipped by 1.4 per cent.
On the economic front, lending finance has lifted to a six-year high. Total lending rose by 1.7 per cent in January, adding to December's 2.6 per cent rise. Lending has picked up by over 28 per cent on a year ago.
At the close, 1.76 billion shares changed hands, worth $4.66 billion. 299 stocks were higher, 622 ended in the red and 352 were flat.
Tonight, a monthly report on Producer Prices (business inflation) will be issued in the U.S. together with the results of a consumer sentiment survey for March. The more confident consumers are, the more likely they are to spend. Around 75 per cent of the U.S. economy is dependent on consumer spending.
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