Market Wrap: Aus shares start the week lower

Market Reports

Following on from last week’s losses, the Australian share market traded in the red throughout the day to end 0.3 per cent lower. Weak US jobs data added fuel to concerns over an economic slowdown sending most sectors into negative territory, with retailers suffering the biggest falls.
 
The S&P/ASX200 Index dropped 14 points to close at 4,569. On the futures market the SPI is down 12 points.

Company news:

Tabcorp Holdings Ltd’s (ASX:TAH) recently spun off casino business Echo Entertainment Group (ASX:EGP) debuted on the Australian Securities Exchange today at $4.35 per share, giving it a market cap of more than $3 billion. Tabcorb will continue to trade with the company’s wagering, gaming and keno businesses after shareholders unanimously approved the split last week. Tabcorp shareholders have received one Echo share for every Tabcorp share held. Allowing for the demerger, shares in Tabcorp ended the day 56.61 per cent down at $3.35.

Shares in Foster's Group Ltd (ASX:FGL) continued to rise today, as speculation mounts that Australia’s biggest brewer is being lined up by potential suitors. At the end of last week Foster’s responded to a price query from the ASX by denying that it had any knowledge of a potential bid. Talk of a takeover of the brewer has increased since it spun-off its wine business into Treasury Wine Estates Ltd (ASX:TWE) last month. Shares in Foster's Group gained 2.03 per cent today and closed at $4.52.

Agribusiness Ridley Corporation Ltd (ASX:RIC) has forecast a net profit of between $27 million and $29 million in the 2011 financial year, down from $29.1 million achieved the year before.

Indophil Resources NL (ASX:IRN) entered into a trading halt today as it prepares for a capital raising. The company is reportedly targeting around $190 million to advance its Tampakan copper and gold project in the Philippines. 

Lend Lease Group (ASX:LLC) has secured contracts valued at more than $1 billion, a $122.5 million building contract with the University of New South Wales and a $900 million contract with the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Shares in Iluka Resources Ltd (ASX:ILU) rose today on news the mineral sands producer is expecting the average price for its titanium dioxide products to rise by as much as 75 per cent in the second half of the year.

Best and worst performers:

The only sector to finish in positive territory was Utilities, adding 34 points to close at 4,334. The worst performing sector was Consumer Discretionary, losing 15 points to close at 1,372. The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was Iluka Resources shares climbed 7.26 per cent to close at $17.00. Shares in Infigen Energy and Energy World Corporation also closed in higher today. The worst performing stock was Tabcorb Holdings, falling 56.61 per cent to close at $3.35. Shares in Gunns and Mirabela Nickel also closed lower today.

Commodities:

Gold is trading at $US1,546 an ounce and Light crude is down $0.31 cents at $US99.91 a barrel.