Despite a strong finish in Wall Street overnight and a confirmed stimulus package for the eurozone, the Australian share market dropped at the open but started to move higher in afternoon trade before closing 0.5 per cent down.
Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 20 points down to finish at 4,028. On the futures market, the SPI is currently 4 points down.
Following the announcement last week that Fairfax Media Limited (ASX:FXJ) will shed 1900 jobs, three senior editors have stepped down. Peter Fray editor-in-chief of the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), Amanda Wilson editor of the SMH and Paul Ramadge editor-in-chief of The Age, will be leaving the company, two as soon as Friday. Fairfax announced plans to alter its two major metropolitan broadsheets and cut about one-fifth of total staff costs. Shares in Fairfax closed 1.72 per cent down at $0.57.
Alcoa (ASX:AAI) is awaiting confirmation on whether the federal government will provide a $42 million bailout to help the company save its Point Henry aluminium smelter in Victoria from closure as well as protect 600 jobs. Prime Minister Gillard expressed concern in parliament today over the potential job losses. Shares in Alcoa last traded at $8.50.
NIB Holdings Limited (ASX:NHF) has confirmed its full year guidance will be at the lower end of between $65 and $70 million, pre-tax profit.
Transpacific Industries Group Limited (ASX:TPI) has downgraded its full year guidance to between $8 and $13 million, reduced from previous projections of $17.3 million.
Shares in Perpetual Limited (ASX:PPT) rebounded towards the end of the day rising over 2 per cent, despite the fund manager substantially downgrading its full year guidance and announcing job cuts for the next two years.
Health care company Starpharma Holdings Limited (ASX:SPL) has reached 100 per cent enrolment for the completion of its Phase 2 trial for VivaGel.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Consumer Staples edging up 2 points to close at 7,628.
The worst performing sector was Utilities, losing 77 points to close at 4,787 points.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Paladin Energy Limited (ASX:PDN) rising 5.6 per cent to close at $1.23. Shares in TPG Telecom and Aquarius Platinum also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Billabong International Limited (ASX:BBG) dropping 34.07 per cent to close at $0.96. Shares in Alacer Gold and Bathurst Resources also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,572 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.42 up at $US80.18 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US 1.004.