Market Wrap: China data and $ weigh on ASX

Market Reports

The Australian dollar has fallen below 90 US cents for the first time in six months adding to investor woes after poor growth figures from China sent the share market 1.04 per cent lower by the close. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 58 points down to finish at 5,474. 
 
The value of trades was $4.64 billion on volume of 742 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 65 points down.
 
Economic news

The ABS has reported a drop in new car sales for August. New motor vehicle sales dipped a seasonally adjusted 1.8 per cent bringing total sales down 3.5 per cent on the same period last year. 
 
Company news
 
Leighton Holdings Limited’s (ASX:LEI) subsidiary Thiess has secured a contract amendment and extension with NBN Co. The two year contract with a one year extension option is for the installation, activation and maintenance of home and business premise connections to the National Broadband Network. The Thiess services business will now be connecting around 170,000 premises annually with forecast revenues of up to $183 million. Shares in Leighton Holdings traded ex-dividend today and lost 4.12 per cent to $20.94. 
 
Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI) has launched a $754 million capital raising to repay debt and strengthen its balance sheet. Chairman Peter Smedley says with iron ore prices at five year lows there is increased uncertainty over the extent and timing of recovery and there is a need to reposition the company for the current market. Arrium is seeking to raise about $656 million through a one-for-one renounceable entitlement offer. Arrium also expects to raise another $98 million with an institutional placement. Shares in Arrium are in a trading halt and last traded at $0.65. 
 
Future Generation Investment Fund Limited (ASX:FGX) made history today as the first charity-based fund to be listed in Australia. A number of highly successful fund managers have agreed to provide their services free of charge which allows the company to donate 1 per cent of assets each year to charity.
 
Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) has awarded a $10 million pipeline construction contract for its North Star Magnetite Project to a joint venture between Viento Group Limited (ASX:VIE) and Kimberley Pipelines. 
 
Elders Limited (ASX:ELD) has emerged from a trading halt announcing a widely anticipated $57 million equity raising. The company also forecast EBIT for FY14 in a range of $23 million to $28 million, reflecting a turnaround of up to $77 million on FY13.
 
And Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL) has appointed former CEO of Leighton Holdings, Wal King as Chairman as the company transitions from exploration to development.  
 
Best and worst performers

All major sectors are down today. The sector with the least losses was health care falling 0.1 per cent to close at 15,265. The worst performing sector was real estate investment trusts, losing 2.4 per cent to close at 1,091.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Evolution Mining, rising 10.29 per cent to close at $0.75. Shares in Beadell Resources and Medusa Mining also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Lynas Corporation, dropping 13.33 per cent to close at $0.13 after announcing it has stopped negotiations for bad debt restructuring with Nomura. Shares in Paladin Energy and Qantas also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,233 an ounce. Light crude is $0.56 down at $US92.27a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 89.97 US cents.