Market Wrap: Aus shares close lower

Market Reports

Aussie shares closed lower today, with declines in bank stocks weighing on the market.

The S&P/ASX200 index is down 38 points at 4,375 and on the futures market, the SPI200 is down 50.

To company news around this afternoon: AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd (ASX:AXA) CEO Andrew Penn says the company’s Asian businesses are growing, today representing around two thirds of the company’s group operating earnings. In a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce, Mr Penn says sales in Asia are up 52% in the first half of 2010 compared to the same period last year. Mr Penn says the proposed transaction with NAB (ASX:NAB) and AXA SA would value the Asian assets at $9.4 billion. Shares in AXA Asia Pacific Holdings are down 0.74% at $5.35.

Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX:FMG) CEO Andrew Forrest has re-ignited the Mineral Resource Rent Tax debate. According to the Australian Associated Press, Mr Forest says that smaller miners are concerned about the Greens pushing for a higher 50% mining tax, as opposed to the Government’s planned 30% tax. AAP reports that Mr Forrest says he is prepared to invest in advertising against the tax, should the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies relaunch its campaign. Shares in Fortescue Metals Group are down 1.46% at $4.04.

Also making news: Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) has come one step closer to acquiring Lihir Gold Ltd (ASX:LGL) with an independent expert approving their $8.7 billion offer.

Petsec Energy Ltd (ASX:PSA) has reduced its 2010 production forecast to 4 billions of cubic feet equivalent and downgraded its revenue guidance to US $28 million.

Looking at some of our earlier reports: Telecommunications giant Telstra (ASX:TLS) is set to slash 10 per cent of its 300 strong executive team as a part of the company's drive to simplify the business and focus on customer service.

Santos Ltd (ASX:STO) reports that major wet weather and flood conditions have continued to affect gas and liquids production from the Cooper Basin in Central Australia. In the best and worst performers: The best performing index at close was the Energy sector up 23 points at 14,427. The worst performing index at close was the Real Estate Investment Trust sector, down 16 points at 856.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Mt Gibson Iron, share rose 6.21% to $1.54. Shares in Ausenco and Avoca Resources also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was Elders, shares fell 4.6% to close at $0.415. Shares in Ardent Leisure and Alesco Corporation also closed weaker today.

In commodities, gold is trading at $1,182.40 U.S an ounce, and light crude is down $0.26 at $76.30 U.S a barrel.

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