Market Wrap: Aus shares close 1% down

Market Reports

The Australian share market was off to a soft start to the day, after global markets retreated last week. The ASX continued to be led down by mining stocks as well as news that China’s inflation had eased to a 29-month low in June.

Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 40 points down to finish at 4,118. On the futures market, the SPI is currently 36 points down.

Economic news

ANZ Banking Group job advertisements were down for the third straight month. Newspapers fell 3.3 per cent for the month and internet advertising dropped 1.1 per cent. The biggest declines were recorded in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

Company news

Shares in Alchemia Limited (ASX:ACL) have risen today after it revealed plans to demerge its wholly owned subsidiary which contains its oncology assets. Pending shareholder and regulatory approval, the drug developer will list the stand-alone company in Australia and/or the US. Alchemia’s chief says it wanted to position its oncology assets to have access to a greater pool of capital for use in the future, as well as establish a footprint in the US . Shares in Alchemia closed 9 per cent up at $0.55.

Cockatoo Coal Limited’s (ASX:COK) North-Surat Taroom Coal Project in central Queensland, has received state government approval to prepare an environmental impact statement, according to media reports. Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney says the $1.12 billion project has the potential to operate for up to 20 years and export about eight million tonnes of thermal coal a year as well as provide significant construction and operational jobs. Shares in Cockatoo Coal closed 4.76 per cent down at $0.20.
 
Construction giant Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX:LEI) has sold its landfill and rubbish business, Thiess Waste Management for $218 million to Germay’s Remondis AG & Co KG, subject to certain conditions. Leighton expects to complete the sale by the end of the current financial year.

Shares in Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU) dived today as the mineral sands producer downgraded its sales forecasts for the full 2012 financial year, citing a marked deterioration in major regional economies and a weakening economic outlook.

Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) will participate in a $15.2 million share placement and pay $5.2 million to maintain its 19.85 per cent holding in Centaurus Metals Limited (ASX:CTM).

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group's (ASX:ANZ) chief executive Mike Smith is reportedly among a select group being considered to replace disgraced Barclays boss Bob Diamond, according to media reports. A spokesperson from ANZ declined to comment.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was Telco Services adding 13 points to close at 1,294.

The worst performing sector was Materials, losing 253 points to close at 9,450 points.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Transpacific Industries Group Limited (ASX:TPI) rising 2.05 per cent to close at $0.74. Shares in Crown and Australia Infrastructure Fund also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU) plunging 24.1 per cent to close at $8.88. Shares in Billabong and Linc Energy also closed lower.


Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,582 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.33 up at $US84.78 a barrel.

The Australian dollar  

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.019.