Following mixed offshore leads, the Australian share market opened slightly lower and crept further into the red before closing half a per cent down.
Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 23 points down to finish at 4,042. On the futures market, the SPI is currently 23 points down.
Perpetual Limited (ASX:PPT) shares have rallied today following rumours of a private equity takeover bid. Though the wealth manager is denying any knowledge of a takeover offer. The company is however currently conducting a review of its business, with the help of an international consulting firm. Shares in Perpetual closed 9.94 per cent up at $23.79.
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) has reportedly cut its forecast commodities prices for the next three to five years. The cuts come in response to the effects of the global financial crisis on demand. As yet it is not known whether the changed outlook will affect the mining giant’s $20 billion Outer Harbour expansion or it’s multibillion-dollar Olympic Dam copper-uranium project. Shares in BHP Billiton closed 0.38 per cent down at $31.80.
Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) ambitious liquor store expansion strategy appears to be on ice today, with a spokeswoman for the supermarket giant confirming plans to acquire two further bottle shops in Tasmania and Newcastle were being deferred.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) will reportedly hire 70 commercial bankers in Asia as it continues its expansion of operations across the Asia-Pacific region.
Echo Entertainment Group Ltd (ASX:EGP) remains in a trading halt with the company again failing to finalise its plans to raise $450 million in fresh capital.
Over 40 million Fairfax Media Limited (ASX:FXJ) shares have been bought today in one transaction, fuelling rumours that mining magnate Gina Reinhart has upped her stake in the media company.
Best and worst performers
The best performing and only major sector not to close lower was Real Estate Investment Trusts holding steady at 860 points. The worst performing sector was Health Care, losing 111 points to close at 9,146 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Perpetual Limited (ASX:PPT), as mentioned earlier rising 9.94 per cent to close at $23.79. Shares in Sigma Pharmaceutical Limited (ASX:SIP) and Billabong International Limited (ASX:BBG) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Coalspur Mines Limited (ASX:CPL), dropping 8.42 per cent to close at $0.87. Shares in Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB) and Linc Energy Ltd (ASX:LNC) also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,621 an ounce. Light crude is $0.36 up at $US82.98.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is just below parity buying $US0.9955.