Market wrap: ASX loses 1.160%

Market Reports

The Aussie sharemarket slid 1.16 per cent into the red today, on the back of a ratings downgrade of major euro zone nations.  
 
The S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 49 points to finish at 4,147. On the futures market, the SPI is 58 points lower.
 
Economic news 
 
Job advertisements fell in December, recording the first negative annual growth rate since February 2010. The ANZ job ads survey show job ads dropped 0.9 per cent on the internet and in metro newspapers, and total job ads dropped 2.6 per cent.
 
Housing finance lifted for the fifth month in November, according to the Bureau of Statistics. It says there were 46,953 home loans granted in November, a seasonally adjusted rise of 1.4 per cent. 
 
Company news 
 
Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) has announced a 72 per cent increase in the North Star magnetite deposit of 880 million tonnes, taking the total resource to 2.12 billion tonnes. North Star is 100kms south of Fortescue’s Port Headland operation, adjacent to the Glacier Valley magnetite deposit that Fortescue operates with joint venture partner, Chinese Baosteel. Shares in Fortescue lost 2.74 per cent today, closing at $4.62.
 
Fairfax reports the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims has refused to say whether the watchdog will approve Foxtel's takeover of Austar United Communications Limited (ASX:AUN). It says Austar's minority shareholders are due to vote on the $1.52 per share takeover on February 17, but the ACCC must approve the deal on February 3 for the vote to go ahead. Shares in Austar firmed 0.41 per cent today, closing at $1.21. 
 
Dart Energy Limited (ASX:DTE) has created a wholly-owned shale subsidiary. Dart Energy International Shale will develop its growing European shale gas resources. The company says its shale gas portfolio requires relatively low capital commitment.
 
Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX:LEI) shares performed well today after the company upgraqded its underlying profit guidance for the first half, thanks to improved earnings from its operations in Australia as well as Asia. It’s expecting net profit after tax for the half to be about $340 million.  
 
Linc Energy Limited (ASX:LNC) says it is holding talks with a potential cornerstone investor which it may pursue significant underground coal gasification opportunities in mainland China with, but that its share price jump on Friday of more than 20 per cent was not because of an alleged sale of its Teresa settlement, which it has denied.
 
Straits Resources Limited (ASX:SRQ) and joint venture partner Argonaut (ASX:ARE) have lost a Supreme Court appeal to explore an area in South Australia. A previous approval from the state government has been vetoed because the minister who granted the drilling didn’t comply with the Aboriginal Heritage Act.   
 
Best and worst performers

All sectors ended lower. The best performing sector was Telco Services but it was still down 0.42 points to close at 1,121.5. The worst performing sector was Materials, losing 181 points to close at 11,011.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was FKP Property Group, up 10.71 per cent to 62 cents after a media report that it might receive and offer for its $1 billion retirement properties. Shares in Dart Energy and Leighton followed.
 
The worst performing stock was Fleetwood Corporation, falling 4.93 per cent to close at $11.95. Shares in White Energy and Aquila Resources also lost value.
 
Commodities

The price of gold is $US1,639.90 an ounce. Light crude is up $0.17 at $US98.87 a barrel.