The Australian share market closed 1.4 per cent lower today with all sectors in the red. Rio Tinto, BHP and top banks all posted losses as concern over the spike in oil prices weighed on the market.
The S&P/ASX200 Index closed 66 points weaker at 4,798. On the futures market, the SPI is down 75 points.
Economic news: Job advertisements rose for the tenth consecutive month in February according to the latest ANZ Job Advertisements figures. The number of jobs advertised rose 1.2 per cent in February, slowing from 2.4 per cent growth in January. Newspaper jobs rose 4.4 per cent while internet jobs increased 1 per cent.
Company news: Shares in Salmat Ltd (ASX:SLM) dropped by over six per cent after cutting guidance, due to Telstra cancelling its call centre contract with the group. Salmat says its earnings before interest, tax and amortisation will drop by between $4 and $5 million in the second half of the financial year. The company will continue to provide Telstra with customer communication services, and Telstra will continue to provide Salmat with telephone services. Shares in Salmat fell 5.58 per cent to close at $3.89.
AMP Ltd's (ASX:AMP) $14 billion takeover of wealth manager AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd (ASX:AXA) is to proceed after winning court approval. AXA APH shareholders will be offered 0.73 AMP shares and a cash amount based on AMP's daily volume-weighted average share price. This will occur during the 10 days following the effective date of the scheme. Shares in AXA Asia Pacific closed steady at $6.41.
Fairfax Media Ltd (ASX:FXJ) has bought an online holiday rental and corporate accommodation business , for $29.1 million. Fairfax says it will combine the new company ‘Occupancy’ with Fairfax's existing holiday and travel website stayz.com.au.
Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX:RIO) has criticised the Government’s plan to put a fixed price on carbon emissions. It warns that without major changes, the scheme could be potentially disastrous for businesses.
Shares in Carsales.com Ltd (ASX:CRZ) have fallen, following news that private equity owned Nine Entertainment has offloaded its 49.1 per cent stake in the company for $565 million. Also three of Carsales.com’s non-executive directors have resigned from the board.
Woolworths Ltd (ASX:WOW) has launched a $500 million five year bond deal, which is expected to price by tomorrow at around 110 basis points over swap. ANZ Bank and Westpac Institutional Bank are joint lead managers on the issue and it is to be rated A-minus by S&P.
Best and worst performers: T : ::;he sector at close with the smallest loss was Energy, with the index 116 points lower to close at 16,304. The sector with the largest loss was Consumer Discretionary, falling 26 points to close at 1,505. The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was CuDeco. Shares rose 5.31 per cent to close at $3.37. Shares in St. Barbara and Perseus Mining also lifted today. The worst performing stock was Southern Cross Media Group. Shares fell 6.13 per cent to close at $1.76. Shares in Carsales.com and Lynas Corporation also dropped.
In commodities, gold is trading at $US1,435 an ounce. Light crude is up $1.70 at $US106.12 US a barrel.