The Australian sharemarket has fallen more than 1.5%, with worries over the European debt crisis pulling stocks lower ahead of the critical EU summit.
The S&P/ASX200 Index closed 69 points weaker at 4,145. On the futures market, the SPI is down 70 points.
Business confidence has fallen sharply according to the NAB Quarterly Business Survey. The survey showed a 9 point decline in confidence to -4 for the quarter.
Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES) has increased first quarter sales at Coles supermarkets by 8 per cent to more than $8 billion. But the retailer says tough times lie ahead in the lead up to Christmas. Sales at Target declined by 1.4 per cent, and Kmart increased by only 0.1 per cent. Wesfarmers shares are 1.99 per cent lower, closing at $31.54.
Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) has posted a fall in production in the first quarter, blaming maintenance shutdowns and bad weather. Gold production fell 16 per cent compared with the previous quarter and copper production also fell, but only slightly. The gold miner maintained its cost and production guidance for the full year. Newcrest shares fell 6.43 per cent to close at $33.45.
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) (NYSE:BHP) is in talks to buy Brazilian iron ore producer Ferrous Resources according to media reports.
Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) (NYSE:RIO) agrees to buy Canadian uranium miner Hathor Exploration for more than $550 million.
Peabody Energy and ArcelorMittal extend their offer for Macarthur Coal Limited (ASX:MCC) by another fortnight to November 11th.
Manufacturer GUD Holdings Limited (ASX:GUD) could be the first victim of a shareholder strike against executive pay according to the Australian Financial Review.
Best and worst performers
All sectors are in the red. The sector with the smallest losses was Utilities, falling 30 points to close at 4,353.
The worst performing sector was Materials, losing 315 points to close at 11,039.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was Coalspur Mines, lifting 5.92 per cent to close at $1.70. Shares in Charter Hall Group and Lynas Corporation also finished the day stronger.
The worst performing stock was OceanaGold Corporation, down 8.4 per cent closing at $2.18. Murchison Metals and Newcrest Mining also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,613 an ounce. Light crude is down 51 cents at $US85.60 a barrel.