Market Wrap: Euro caution weighs on market

Market Reports

The Australian share market traded in a tight range today, opening higher before dipping into the red before close. A week of see-sawing has seen investors swing between caution and hope, ahead of this weekend’s highly anticipated European Summit to tackle the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis. 

The S&P/ASX200 Index closed 3 points lower at 4,142. For the week the index shed 64 points.
On the futures market the SPI is currently 8 points higher.

Wall Street, over the four trading days this week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 103 points lower. The S&P 500 Index was 9 points lower. The Nasdaq was 69 points lower. The 100 Index was 66 points lower.

Economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported that the Import Price Index recorded no change in the September quarter, compared to the quarter before. In the same period, the Export Price Index increased 4 per cent.

Company news

Engineering companies Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX:LEI) and WorleyParsons Limited (ASX:WOR) will be side-stepping Libya in the near term, following the killing of the nation’s former leader, Muammar Gaddafi. WorleyParsons has told Australian Associated Press it has no immediate plans to resume operations in Libya, having earlier this year evacuated more than two dozen employees. Leighton also told AAP it has not been seeking work in Libya for some time and would postpone all possible work plans in the foreseeable future, given the uncertainty and unrest in the country. Shares in Leighton Holdings closed 0.19 per cent higher at $20.56.

Australia’s second largest carrier, Virgin Blue Holdings Limited’s (ASX:VBA), proposed tie up with Singapore Airlines has been given the thumbs up from Singapore’s competition regulator. The green light follows a preliminary approval granted from Australia’s competition regulator last week, with the final approval expected before the end of this year. Earlier this week Virgin said it was also gearing up to provide additional capacity in the lead up to the busy holiday period, in response to ongoing industrial action from Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN) workers. Shares in Virgin Blue Holdings closed steady today at $0.355.

Shares in Myer Holdings Limited (ASX:MYR) firmed after the retailer revealed its executives took a pay cut last year. CEO Bernie Brookes took home $1.63 million, foregoing up to $950,000 of long-term incentive share-based payments in the same year Myer’s earnings fell more than 4 per cent. 

Shares in Toll Holdings Limited (ASX:TOL) dipped after announcing that its long-serving managing director, Paul Little, will take home an extra $1.5 million when he leaves transport and logistics provider at the end of the year.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Real Estate Investment Trusts, adding 4 points to close at 780. The worst performing sector was Consumer Staples, losing 104 points to close at 7,456 points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was SEEK, shares advanced 6.78 per cent to close at $5.83 after reports emerged that the online jobs website is planning to float its Chinese jobs website. Shares in Primary Health Care and David Jones also finished stronger today.

The worst performing stock was Murchison Metals, dropping 5.56 per cent to close at $0.255. Shares in Gunns and Ardent Leisure also fell today.

IPOs

Blackwall Property Funds Limited (ASX:BWF) started trading today at $0.27, $0.23 below its issue price of $0.50. Blackwall Property Funds closed the day at $0.25.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,625 an ounce and fell by $53 over the week.
Light crude is up $0.26 to $US86.33 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.0234 cents and is down by $0.0108 on the week.