Rollercoaster week leaves bourse just in the black

The week started optimistically. But then panic gripped and confusion reigned. By the end of the week, the bourse managed to close higher, but not by much.

The week started optimistically. But then panic gripped and confusion reigned. By the end of the week, the bourse managed to close higher, but not by much.

For the week, the S&P/ASX200 rose 12.8 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 4325.8 points.

Things were sent spinning by the falling price of iron ore. Slipping below $90 a tonne last week, it continued to fall and, after months spent watching it lose value, it seemed Australia's miners had had enough.

Fortescue Metals announced it was deferring some development work in response to the uncertainty created by falling prices, before sacking staff across the country.

The company's shares plummeted and its owners held quick meetings with creditors. The news raised fears that more mining projects could be junked, and so resource stocks got whacked.

But, by yesterday, resource stocks were somewhat back in favour - particularly after Chinese authorities moved to stimulate their economy with several big infrastructure projects - and it was the turn of companies with an exposure to the Australian dollar to cop a beating.

After the European Central Bank announced a new bond buying program on Thursday, in a bid to help struggling European countries with troubled bonds, the Australian dollar jumped nearly US1? yesterday.

Healthcare stocks fell heavily, with CSL losing $1.08, or 2.4 per cent, to $44.01.

But the local market did not rally as much as those in Europe and the US after the ECB announcement.

Frankfurt (up 2.9 per cent), Paris (up 3.1 per cent), and London (up 2.1) had all jumped higher, as did US stocks.

Analysts said the rising Australian dollar had something to do with it.

"In this era when commodity prices are lower than they were, the Australian dollar needs to be lower," NAB's Peter Jolly said.

"But the fact that it's not, and the fact that it rallied today, cuts a little bit into growth prospects."

For the week, Billabong International rose 6.5?, at $1.42, after the surfwear retailer said it would formally consider a takeover after receiving its second offer in six weeks.

BHP Billiton was up 19?, at $31.98, after the miner said it would push ahead with its $US1 billion ($A968.7 million) Eagle Ford petroleum expansion in Texas as it aims to boost worldwide production levels by 8 per cent.

Coca-Cola Amatil rose 7?, at $13.76, after it completed its $58 million takeover of the maker of Fiji Bitter but says it will not take total control of the brewer.

Consolidated Media Holdings lost 3?, at $3.42, while News Corp rose $1.09, to $23.86, after News Limited made a formal offer for the James Packer company lower than its original bid.

Caltex Australia rose 55?, to $16.17, after the oil refiner has raised $550 million from investors

Fortescue Metals fell 23?, to $3.31, after the iron ore miner started sacking staff and announced plans to defer some development work in response to uncertainty created by falling iron ore prices.

Lynas Corporation rose 18?, to 82?, surging more than 50 per cent in early trade after the rare earths miner was granted a temporary licence for its $US800 million refinery in Malaysia.

Qantas Airways rose 11?, to $1.26, after it announced an agreement with Emirates that could help save the Australian airline's struggling international operations.

with agencies

Related Articles