Market Wrap: Aus shares close lower

Market Reports

The Australian share market closed one per cent lower, on the back of uncertainty surrounding global economic recovery and speculation surrounding the result of the tomorrow’s Federal election. The S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 48 points to finish at 4,431, down 29 points on the week. And on the futures market, the SPI200 is down 59 points.

Looking to the US and on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial index closed 32 points down for the four trading days this week. The S&P500 Index is down 4 points, the NASDAQ is down 5 points and the 100 index is down 4.

To company news around this afternoon: According to The Australian, BHP Billiton Ltd’s (ASX:BHP) Western Australian iron ore joint venture with Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX:RIO) is not under threat. Though no official announcement has been made by either company, the paper reports that Rio’s CEO Tom Albanese today said that the synergies with BHP are indisputable and large and a prize worth doing anything to achieve. Regulatory approval is still pending for the deal that would combine the two miners Pilbara operations. Shares in BHP Billiton closed 1.04% down at $37.90.

Duet Group (ASX:DUE) has delivered a turnaround full-year profit of $140 million, reversing a $62.3 million net loss posted in 2009, with revenue increasing 11% to $1.15 billion for the twelve months to 30 June. The utility says despite a challenging external environment the company’s assets continued to perform in line with expectations. Shares in Duet Group closed 0.91% down at $1.635.

Investment companies Milton Corporation Ltd (ASX:MLT) and Choiseul Investments Ltd (ASX:CHO) have announced a proposed merger to create $2 billion in assets under management and more than 18,000 shareholders between the two companies.

Prime Media Group Ltd (ASX:PRT) says challenging market conditions have affected its results for the year with the broadcaster posting a $54.5 million loss, compared with a $44 million loss the year before.

ANZ (ASX:ANZ) has achieved a 26 per cent increase in underlying profit after tax in the nine months to 30 June 2010, to $3.6 billion, the bank attributing growth to business earnings and reduced provisions despite lower income from global markets and the impact of exchange rates.

Macmahon Holdings Ltd’s (ASX:MAH) says its experience in remote railway development has helped it score an $86 million contract to develop the Karara Iron Ore project in Western Australia.

In the best and worst performers: The sector with the smallest losses at close was the Consumer Staples sector with the index flat at 7,808. The worst performing sector was the Consumer Discretionary sector with the index down 35 points at 1,482.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Perseus Mining shares rose 3.88% to $2.68. Shares in Brambles and AWB also closed higher. The worst performing stock was Billabong International, shares closed 9.88% lower at $8.03. Shares in Cudeco and iSoft Group also closed weaker today.

The Australian Dollar is trading at 89.12 US cents, barely changed on the week. In commodities, gold is trading at $1232 US an ounce and is up $18.65 on the week. Light crude is down $0.09 at $74.34 US a barrel.