Market Wrap: Property stocks propel ASX plunge

Market Reports

Steep falls on Wall Street pushed the Australian share market down at open and the benchmark shed 1.3 per cent by close. Traders were spooked by a better than expected US jobs report on Friday, fuelling speculation rates could rise sooner than later.  Across the local board all sectors extended falls throughout the session, accelerated in the property sector, and the Australian dollar slipped under $US0.77.  
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index plunged 78 points to close at 5,821. 
 
The value of trades was $4.5 billion on volume of 783 million shares at the close of trade. 
 
The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) and Toll Holdings Limited (ASX:TOL)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 78 points lower.
 
Economic news 
 
Ahead of official employment data on Thursday ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) has shown job ads rose for the ninth straight month in February. Newspaper jobs ads rose 0.9 per cent and online advertising, which makes up about 98 per cent of the total read, increased 0.7 per cent last month. 
 
Company news
 
ASX Limited (ASX:ASX) has confirmed it is in talks to lower its clearing fees for cash equities if the current market structure is extended for five years. The operator of the Australian Securities Exchange says the proposed fee schedule would provide a 14.2 per cent fee reduction to customers, based on the value cleared in the financial year to date. Shares in ASX rose 0.35 per cent to close at $42.50. 
 
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) has appointed Wendy Stops as a director in an effort to leverage from her skills and insights into technology. Carolyn Kay will leave the board at the end of the month after being a CBA director for 12 years. Shares in Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 0.63 per cent to close at $90.52. 
 
AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGL) has sold an exploration licence to explore for gas on the New South Wales Central Coast back to the state government. 
 
Oil and gas producer Santos Limited (ASX:STO) has struck a new deal to supply gas to Australia’s biggest alumina producer Alcoa for five years. 
 
Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU) is a step closer to securing a production licence for its Ungani oil field in Western Australia after executing a key Native Title Agreement.
 
Oil and gas explorer Tap Oil Limited (ASX:TAP) has won two new exploration permits on the North West Shelf off Western Australia. 
 
Best and worst performers

All sectors ended in the red: The sector with the least losses was financials excluding real estate investment trusts easing 0.7 per cent to close at 8,005. The worst performing sector was real estate investment trusts, shedding 3.7 per cent to close at 1,282 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was AWE Limited (ASX:AWE), rising 6.97 per cent to close at $1.30. Shares in QBE Insurance Group Limited (ASX:QBE) and Steadfast Group Limited (ASX:SDF) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Bradken Limited (ASX:BKN), dropping 14.03 per cent to close at $1.90. Shares in Regis Resources Limited (ASX:RRL) and Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR) also closed lower. 
 
IPOs
 
Spring FG Limited (ASX:SFL) started trading today. The provider of financial services floated with an issue price of $0.30, opened at $0.40 and closed at $0.43.    
 
Commodities
 
Gold is buying $US1,171 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.15 lower at $US49.61 a barrel. 
 
Currencies
 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7694.