The Australian share market has closed the session lower today as investors fled riskier assets on uncertainty surrounding the global economic recovery, in particular declines in the major banks and miners weighed heavily on the market.
The S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 49 points to finish at 4,404. And on the futures market, the SPI200 is down 61 points.
To company news around this afternoon: Oil and gas producer Cooper Energy Ltd (ASX:COE) has rebounded from a loss last year to post a profit of $1.2 million for the twelve months to June 30. Production sales for the year dipped to 465,012 barrels of oil down from 487,254 barrels of oil last year. Sales revenue came to $40 million, down from $42 million the year before. Cooper Energy says the result was largely impacted by international exploration write-offs, for which there is no Australian taxation allowance. Shares in Cooper Energy closed 1.32% higher at $0.385.
In other news, AMP Ltd (ASX:AMP) CEO Craig Dunn hasn’t given up hope of acquiring AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd (ASX:AXA). According to a report in The Australian, Mr Dunn considers IOOF, who has offered to buy AXA’s North platform from NAB, as too small to truly compete in the retail investment market. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission blocked NAB’s offer for AXA Asia Pacific on the grounds it would lessen competition amongst retail fund providers. In an effort to pacify the ACCC, NAB said it would offload the asset to a suitable buyer. The paper reports Mr Dunn saying he is still keen for a merger between AMP and AXA, saying it would create a company of sufficient size to compete with the four major banks in wealth management. The ACCC is to deliver its final decision on September 9. Shares in AMP closed 0.98% weaker at $5.04.
Also making news: ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) executive Jenny Fagg has stepped down from her role as head of the bank’s New Zealand arm, to help aid her recovery from breast cancer. According to reports Ms Fagg is one of Australia’s highest-ranked female executives and would have been a strong candidate for CEO should the opportunity have arisen.
Halcygen Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:HGN) says it expects underlying earnings in fiscal 2011 to be at least equal to or greater than its fiscal 2010 result of $3.25 million.
Qantas Airways Ltd (ASX:QAN) has reported an increase in July passenger numbers, up 9.1 per cent on July last year.
And Southern Cross Media Group (ASX:SXL) has reported a narrower loss of $82.7 million compared to last year, and says despite the political uncertainty, the group remains cautiously optimistic.
In the best and worst performers: Majority of sectors closed in the red today, the best performing sector was the Health Care sector, with the index closing 50 points higher at 8,192. The worst performing sector was the materials sector with the index down 151 points to close at 11,698.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Southern Cross Media Group share price as mentioned before. Shares in Ansell and Linc Energy also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was iSoft, shares closed 15.15% lower at $0.14. The company today reported a full year loss and the resignation of its CEO. Shares in Lynas Corp and Carnarvon Petroleum also closed weaker today.
In commodities, gold is trading at $1233 US an ounce. Light crude is down $1 at $73.70 US a barrel.