Well, the market ‘giveth and the market taketh away’ as the ‘good’ news on Cyprus evaporated. The reality is that this is not good for Zombieland, and in other news it looks like the economic powerhouse of Germany is heading into the slow lane as well. Overnight markets were weaker and we just followed in thin trade. It has been a good quarter and investors seem to be happy to lock in their profits. Once again miners bore the brunt of the falls with RIO Tinto (A$56.93, -2.3%) and BHP Billiton (A$32.92, -1.4%) leading us down, a big local broker has joined the clamour in the “Guess the Iron Ore price Game” Seems whoever is the most bearish gets the most press time.. Other stocks suffered a similar fate with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (A$3.81, -1.8%), Whitehaven Coal (A$2.10, -3.2%), Atlas Iron (A$1.08, -6.1%) and Karoon Gas Australia (A$5.42, -3.4%) all taking a battering. Financials fared slightly better, don’t they always, Westpac Banking (A$30.68, -1.1%) the worse but QBE Insurance Group (A$12.94, -2.0%), Suncorp Group (A$11.44, -0.4%) and AMP (A$4.99, -2.2%) down and dirty.
Media stocks took a hit today with Ten Network (A$0.335, unch), Fairfax Media (A$0.63, -3.1%) and Seven West Media (A$2.09, -4.1%) all down. Other losers included St Barbara (A$1.22, -3.6%), Resolute Mining (A$1.36, -3.9%), Kingsgate Consolidated (A$3.95, -3.4%) and Panaust (A$2.35, -5.2%) and defensives Woolworths (A$33.85, -0.1%), Telstra (A$4.48, -0.7%).
The ASX200 is headed for its eighth loss in 11 sessions, whilst BHP Billiton (A$32.92, -1.4%) has suffered 10 out of 12 losses. At the beginning of the month it was around $36. Not much fun to be a BHP shareholder these days.
Stocks in the News
After nearly two years of courtship the on again off again betrothal of Sundance Resources (A$0.21, unch) to Hanlong looks like it is over. They are now handing the ring back, cancelling the church and the reception and joining eharmony! Seems George Jones can’t even find the chairman of Hanlong as he is being questioned about a murder! Maybe it should have been a hint in their name.
The big winner today in large cap land was UGL (A$10.58, +12.2%) after announcing a review on the optimal corporate structure. Looks possible that the group will split into two. Good UGL and Bad UGL perhaps.
However things weren’t so good for QBE Insurance Group (A$12.94, -2.0%) with reports in the Wall Street Journal that said the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, plans to file a notice Tuesday to ban lucrative fees and commissions paid by insurers to banks on so-called force-placed insurance. Not having much luck are they.
At least someone is doing well out of the NBN, Transfield Services (A$1.82, -2.4%) has been awarded a$170 million contract with NBN Co. The company will build fibre network in metropolitan and south east Sydney as part of the country’s $37 billion national broadband project. Did not help the share price though.
Kathmandu (A$1.98, +0.8%) started strong after their figures but soon gave up their gains. Good first half numbers showed the benefit of getting an online strategy correct.
RIO Tinto (A$56.93, -2.3%) looks at having more problems in Mongolia with cost overruns and now no power plant included in the project instead relying on a third party power solution. Also looks like its capacity will take longer to ramp up.This one better be worth the hassle.
Tomorrows News Today
Looks like the banks in Cyprus are now going to be closed until Thursday to allow the Russians to try and get their money out before everyone else does. Rumour was the Overseas branches of some Cypriot banks were still open and taking withdrawls. Not many queuing up to deposit!
Reports that China is setting up property curbs to try to rein in its asset bubble washed through the Shanghai market like a dodgy Beggars Chicken. Japan tried to stay green but failed despite new kid on the block Kuroda telling law makers he would do whatever it took to get inflation up to 2%.Isn’t it usual for banks to try and get inflation down?
Feel certain Big Nathan will be back in the press in the next few days as Whitehaven Coal (A$2.10, -3.2%) look terrible at the moment.
China pledges $10bn to build a Port facility in Tanzania.
Options expiry tomorrow and Easter looming, no one will want to be brave at quarters end.
And the pressure will be on our teenage sons everywhere as news that Yahoo has paid a 17 year old $30m for his app company. That would make up for all those late night pickups!