Market Wrap: Aus shares retreat 1.7%

Market Reports

The Australian share market has posted its worst day in more than a month, closing 1.7 per cent lower, led down by the Materials sector. Local stocks opened lower following negative offshore leads and continued to slide throughout the day, amid concerns Spain’s debt crisis has worsened.
 
Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 70 points down to finish at 4,129. On the futures market, the SPI is currently 75 points lower.
 
Economic news 

Private-sector budget forecaster Deloitte Access Economics says Australia’s mining boom will slow and not last beyond another two years due to a drop in coal and iron ore prices which it says could threaten the government’s forecast for a budget surplus.  
 
Australia’s producer prices have risen slightly in the June quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The Producer Price Index  which measures prices of capital and consumer items to final buyers, rose 0.5 per cent and 1.1 per cent over the year with both results coming in slightly above expectations. 
 
Company news 

Alesco Corporation Limited (ASX:ALS) has rejected DuluxGroup Limited's (ASX:DLX) latest move to increase its hostile takeover bid. Alesco has continued to advise shareholders to reject the increased offer saying it is “materially inadequate.” Dulux offered $2.05 a share earlier today, plus a maximum of a $0.18 a share in franking credits for dividends declared by Alesco. Shares in Alesco closed 0.49 per cent down at $2.03. 
 
Shares in Intrepid Mines Limited (ASX:IAU) have dived today after it emerged from a trading halt. The precious metals explorer announced its Indonesian joint venture partner suspended operations at its Tujuh Bukit gold and silver project in East Java, requesting several senior managers and expatriate employees to leave the site. Intrepid says it now expects delays in updating its resources estimates. Shares in Intrepid plunged 54.95 per cent at $0.25. 

Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) has posted 4.7 per cent growth in its fourth quarter total group sales. The supermarket giant generated sales of $56.7 billion beating expectations. 
 
Leighton Holdings Limited’s (ASX:LEI) wholly owned subsidiary Thiess has won a six year $2.3 billion mining contract from Jellinbah Group.

Goodman Fielder Limited (ASX:GFF) says it expects annual earnings will drop to the lower end of its forecast and warned it will book about $200 million of write-offs in the 2012 financial year.

Grange Resources Limited (ASX:GRR) has revealed a rock slide occurred at its Savage River iron ore mine in Tasmania from last Wednesday to Friday. The magnetite producer says it expects to maintain production at planned levels as well as its annual production target.

Best and worst performers 
 
The best performing sector was Consumer Staples adding 14 points to close at 8,055. 
 
The worst performing sector was Materials, losing 301 points to close at 8,986 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT) rising 1.15 per cent to close at $2.64. Shares in Dexus Property Group and Woolworths also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Intrepid Mines Limited (ASX:IAU) diving 54.95 per cent to close at $0.25. Shares in Coalspur Mines and Imdex also closed lower. 
 
IPOs

US Masters Residential Property Fund started trading today, with an issue price of $1.63 opening at $1.57 and a closing price of $1.57.
   
Commodities 

Gold is trading at $US1,576 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.22 down at $US91.44 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.03