Midday: Markets and commodities tumble

Market Reports

The Australian sharemarket is almost 1.5 per cent lower in morning trade, following heavy losses on Wall Street. Doubts are mounting that Europe’s leaders have what it takes to get a handle on the euro zone’s debt woes, pushing markets and commodity prices lower.

The S&P/ASX200 index has dropped 53 points falling to 3,986 at noon. On the futures market the SPI is down 67 points.

Economic news

Job vacancies dropped 1.3 per cent to 183,700 for the three months to August, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Company news

St George, owned by Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) and Credit Union Australia are the latest to cut interest rates on fixed mortgages. St George will reduce its three-year fixed-rate home loan by 15 basis point to 6.39 per cent. CUA will reduce its by five basis points to 6.34 per cent. Earlier this week Westpac cut their rates to 6.44 per cent. Westpac shares have fallen 0.63 per cent and are trading at $20.52.

CSG Limited (ASX:CSV) says it’s considering a $340 million takeover offer by an unnamed bidder. The IT services company has said in a statement today that it’s received a non binding, indicative and confidential proposal to buy all the company’s issued stock at $1.20 a share. The company says the board has not yet formed a view on the proposal and recommended shareholders take no action. CSG is seeking legal and financial advice. CSG shares have risen 40.28 per cent and are currently trading at $1.01.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Health Care, gaining 103 points to 7,661. Shares in Analytica have added 5.26 per cent and are trading at $0.02. Shares in CSL and Phylogica are also higher.

The worst performing sector is Materials, falling 270 points to 10,749. Shares in Mirabela Nickel have dropped 8.39 per cent and are trading at $1.31. Shares in Kagara and Iluka Resources are also weaker.

New Zealand

The NZSX50 has fallen 9 points.   

Taking a look at the top four stocks by turnover, Telecom Corporation of New Zealand is at the top of the list with stock 0.59 per cent higher at $2.54 followed by ANZ, Fletcher Building and Westpac.

Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,610 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US0.9762.