Midday: ASX slides 1.5% to 2013 lows

Market Reports

Continuing on from last week’s slide the Australian share market has shaved off another 1.5 per cent to reach the lows of the year. The falls follow on from a week in which Wall Street’s major indexes lost more than 1 per cent on the back of concerns America’s central bank will wind back stimulating the economy. Despite strength in commodity prices overnight the mining sector has sunk. A number of companies trading ex-dividend today are also dragging the broader bourse down.

The S&P/ASX 200 index has dropped 62 points to 4,677. On the futures market the SPI is 43 points lower. 

Economic news

Australian banks have been rated the most profitable in the developed world. The Bank for International Settlements has reported Russia, China, Brazil and India are at the top of the ladder in term of banking profitability followed by Australia, beating other developed market economies including America and England. Australia’s Big Four banks, ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) are forecast to make a combined profit of more than $26 billion this year. 

Company news

Mining and energy focussed engineering company Worleyparsons Limited (ASX:WOR) has scored two new contracts; A five year contract with Chevron in Western Australia and three year contract with Addax Petroleum in West Africa.

Online car classifieds advertiser Carsales.com Limited (ASX:CRZ) has inked a deal to buy a 30 per cent stake in Brazil’s top automotive website called Webmotors for $87.7 million. 
Coal producer Aquila Resources Limited (ASX:AQA,TSE:AQA) has confirmed it will cut jobs at its Eagle Downs coal joint venture with Vale in response to falling commodity prices.
Property investor Abacus Property Group (ASX:ABP) has bought a $31.6 million sub-regional shopping centre near Melbourne’s CBD named the Bacchus Marsh Village Shopping Centre.  

Best and worst performers

The only major sector to dodge negative territory is health care, gaining 78 points to 12,680. Shares in CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) have risen 1.74 per cent and trading at $58.90. Shares in Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX:RHC) are higher while shares in Cochlear Limited (ASX:COH) are steady at noon. 
The worst performing sector is materials, falling 226 points to 8,434. Shares in Perseus Mining Limited (ASX:PRU) have fallen 12.26 per cent, trading at $0.68. Shares in Sirius Resources N.L. (ASX:SIR) and Evolution (ASX:EVN) are also lower. 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,296 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 92.42 US cents.

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