Market Wrap: ASX sinks for fifth straight week

Market Reports

The Australian share market sank 1.3 per cent today and 2.2 per cent over the week to post its fifth straight weekly loss. Over the week the benchmark index wiped the last of the gains since the end of the 2013 calendar year and is now 0.7 per cent lower for 2014. 
Sentiment has suffered amid concerns for Chinese growth, speculation over the US Federal Reserve’s next move and rising terror threats at home and abroad. Over the week the local currency dropped $US0.02 and the price of iron ore continued to tumble to fresh five-year lows. 
The S&P/ASX 200 index sank 69 points today, extending the weekly decline of 120 points to finish at 5,313. 
The value of trades was $5.28 billion on volume of 755 million shares at the close of trade. 
The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
On the futures market the SPI is 67 points lower.
Wall Street
America’s major indexes have moved steeply lower over the four trading days this week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped 1.9 per cent. The S&P 500 Index has dropped 2.3 per cent. The NASDAQ has dropped 2.8 per cent. The 100 Index has dropped 2.4 per cent. 
Company news 
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) capped off a busy week of announcements by revealing it has entered an alliance with Mexican state petroleum company Pemex. The news came one day after the global miner said it is considering listing its new spin-off in London in addition to Australia and South Africa. BHP has also this week cut about 700 workers from its Queensland coal mining business and shown its own top executives are on a pay freeze. Shares in BHP Billiton fell 1.81 per cent today to end the week at $34.16. 
Astro Japan Property Group (ASX:AJA) has divested an asset for $35.6 million and announced an on-market buy-back. The Japanese focussed property investor has sold a Kyoto area retail property at a 6.8 per cent premium to its most recent book value. The company has also revealed an on-market buy-back of up to 5 per cent of its issued capital to be undertaken over the following year. Shares in Astro Japan Property Group rose 1.38 per cent today to end the week at $4.40. 
Annual reports
Shares in Recall Holdings Limited (ASX:REC) eased 0.58 per cent after releasing its inaugural annual report since demerging from Brambles Limited (ASX:BXB) last year. The information technology firm has forecast revenue growth approaching high single digits over the current 2015 financial year. 
Shares in Ausdrill Limited (ASX:ASL) eased 0.53 per cent after forecasting the resources industry will improve over the medium term in Australia and Africa. The mining services provider has affirmed it remains very well placed for a recovery. 
Best and worst performers
All sectors ended on negative territory today: The sector with the smallest losses was utilities, falling 0.8 per cent to close at 5,804. The worst performing sector was telco services, retreating 1.8 per cent to close at 1,872 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML), rising 9.2 per cent to close at $0.89. Shares in Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST) and Cover-More Group Limited (ASX:CVO) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX), dropping 8.2 per cent to close at $0.56. Shares in Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (ASX:LNG) and Western Areas Limited (ASX:WSA) also closed lower. 
The price of gold is buying $US1,226 an ounce, slightly higher over the week.
Light crude is $0.27 lower at $US92.53 a barrel. 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8758, down $US0.02 over the week. 

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