Market Wrap: ASX takes a breather to end flat

Market Reports

Weighed down by weak leads the Australian share market opened lower, flirted with positive territory in the afternoon, but closed 0.2 per cent down for the day. Investors took a breather from the recent rally sparked by stimulus announced from the US Federal Reserve at the end of last week.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 8 points lower at 4,395. On the futures market the SPI is 3 points lower.
Economic news

The Reserve Bank of Australia has suggested there is room to cut the nation’s official interest rate after leaving rates on hold at 3.5 per cent earlier this month. Minutes from the central bank’s latest September board meeting say the inflation outlook continues to provide scope to adjust policy in response to any significant deterioration in the outlook for growth.
The value of resources and energy exports has been forecast to fall for the first time since fiscal 2009. The Australian Government’s Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics expects export earnings to drop 2 per cent to $189 billion in the current financial year, down from an increase of 8 per cent last year. Energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson says this is the end of the current cycle of high commodity prices but this inescapable reality should not be a cause for great alarm or pessimism about Australia's economy.  

The government's commodity forecaster expects the value of rural exports to dip 1 per cent in the current financial year, but, remain 21 per cent stronger than the five-year average. According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences September quarter agricultural commodities report demand for Australia's rural exports continues to be underpinned by Asian demand growth and higher export prices for grains and oilseeds. 
Company news

Shares in Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) rocketed after the Pilbara focussed iron ore miner announced a deal to refinance its debt and emerged from a trading halt. Fortescue has secured a new five-year debt facility of up to $US4.5 billion which will provide it with additional liquidity as it deals with volatility in the price for its main product, iron ore. Shares in Fortescue Metals Group rocketed 17.06 per cent today to finish at $3.50. 
Shares in Holdings Limited (ASX:WTF) dropped as the online travel website said its CEO Robbie Cooke has resigned and will leave at the end of the year. Shares in Tatts Group Limited (ASX:TTS) rose 1.5 per cent as the gaming company announced it has appointed Mr Cooke as its CEO from the beginning of 2013. Shares in Holdings dropped 7.22 per cent today to end at $4.11. 
Shares in BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) closed 0.6 per cent lower after the mining giant released its annual report and revealed its CEO Marius Kloppers took a 15 per cent pay cut last year. 
Shares in Biota Holdings Limited (ASX:BTA) fell 4.2 per cent after amended the terms of its proposed merger with Nabi Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:NABI) to boost value for Nabi shareholders. 
Shares in GrainCorp Limited (ASX:GNC) dipped 1.4 per cent after the grain handler dismissed speculation it is in talks to buy softwood woodchip producer Smart Fibre. 
Shares in Western Desert Resources Limited (ASX:WDR) jumped 10.5 per cent after the miner received a $435 million takeover bid from China's Meijin Energy Group. 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was health care adding 127 points to close at 10,016.
The worst performing sector was real estate investment trusts, losing 8 points to close at 925 points.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Intrepid Mines Limited (ASX:IAU), rising 23.61 per cent to close at $0.45. Shares in Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) and Linc Energy Limited (ASX:LNC) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was APN News and Media Limited (ASX:APN), dropping 7.25 per cent to close at $0.32. Shares in Holdings Limited (ASX:WTF) and Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) also closed lower. 

Gold is trading at $US1,757 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.15 down at $US96.47 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.045. 

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