Market Wrap: Aus shares tumble

Market Reports

The Australian share market took a tumble at close, brought down by the energy and financials sectors, and investor concern about the European debt crisis.

The S&P/ASX200 Index closed 66 points lower at 4,076. On the futures market, the SPI is currently down 77 points.

Economic news

The Reserve Bank of Australia has kept the official cash rate at 4.75 per cent for the ninth consecutive meeting.

ABS figures show the nation reported a seasonally adjusted current account deficit of $7.419 billion in the June quarter. This followed an upwardly revised deficit of $11.115 billion in the March quarter.

The ABS also released housing data today, that shows the owner occupied housing sector lifted in July after recording a flat result in June.
Housing finance for July rose a seasonally adjusted 1.0 per cent to 49,813.

Company news

Gunns Limited (ASX:GNS) has rejected the Tasmanian state government’s settlement offer, intended to settle the balance of its contracts and pay off its debts to state-owned Forestry Tasmania.
The rejection has now put a major restructure of the Tasmanian forestry industry in doubt. Gunns said last year that it would abandon native forestry logging in Tasmania, a move that would have effectively halved the native forestry industry in the process.
Shares in Gunns Limited (ASX:GNS) are in a trading halt, but they last traded at 20.5 cents.

Transfield Services Limited (ASX:TSI) has been awarded a $133 million contract to help build the national broadband network.
The contract with NBN Co is for a minimum of two years, and work is expected to start in October.
Shares in Transfield Services Limited (ASX:TSI) closed 0.88 per cent lower today at $2.60.

Lend Lease Group (ASX:LLC) has also scored a $174 million contract with the NBN, to help with the design and construction of the network in Western Australia. It’s a joint contract with Service Stream Limited (ASX:SSM).

Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN) may be facing another bout of disgruntled passengers today after 40 Brisbane engineers went on strike over an enterprise bargaining dispute. About 15 flights were delayed and two were cancelled. The airline said union demands are excessive.

Data from Neilson published today says Foster’s Group Limited's (ASX:FGL) market share of packaged beer sales was 47.8 per cent for the three months to the end of July, down from 49.9 per cent last year.
 
National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) might be considering a merger in the UK, making it one of Britain’s biggest lenders. Media reports say NBNK is in talks to takeover NAB-owned Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was consumer staples, down 39 points to close at 7,279. The worst performing sector was energy, falling 270 points to close at 12,701 points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was St Barbara, lifting 4.19 per cent to close at $2.24. Shares in Emeco Holdings and Kagara finished the day stronger.

The worst performing stock was Energy World, losing 8.4 per cent to close at 60 cents. Hills Holdings and Virgin Blue also closed lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,918 an ounce. Light crude is down $2.96 at $US83.49 a barrel.