Up one day, down the next

THE Australian bourse more than erased yesterday’s gains, closing more than 4% lower after last night’s plunge on Wall Street while resource stocks suffered at the hands of a slump in base metals.


Yesterday’s 3% gains on the local share market were but a distant memory with the benchmark S&P-ASX 200 index closing the session down 4.3% at 4149.7 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index closed 4.2% lower at 4106.5 points.

The news wasn’t good on Wall Street with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing 5.05% lower on 9139.27 points, as any spark of fresh optimism in the market from Barack Obama’s election win was quickly dashed out by continuing concerns over the state of the world economy following the release of gloomy jobs and services sector data.

The major miners plummeted on steep falls in base metals on the London Metal Exchange overnight with three-month copper falling 5.4% to $US4070 per tonne, nickel down 4.7% to $12,300/t, zinc down 4.8% to $1180/t while tin gained 0.71% to $14,900/t.

BHP Billiton fell to an intraday low of $A28.87 before recovering slightly to close at $29.20, down $2.40 (7.6%), while rival and takeover target Rio Tinto plunged to a low of $78.05 before closing at $79.04, down $7.56 (8.7%).

Meantime, the world’s largest steel maker ArcelorMittal has succumbed to the slowdown in steel demand, and announced it would cut steel output from operations in Europe, North America and emerging markets by 30-35% in the fourth quarter, compared to a 15% cut flagged by the company in October.

Iron ore miners were trading lower today on the back of the news with Fortescue Metals Group closing 10.9% lower at $2.71, Aquila Resources down 12.5% at $3.43, Mount Gibson down 10.6% at 42c, while Atlas Iron shed 17.8% to close at 76c and Australasian Resources plunged 18.6% to 46c.

Spot gold was trading at $US735.55 an ounce at 3.30pm EDT, down $4.35. The gold plays followed suit with Newcrest Mining down 4.9% to $A21.40 at market close, Lihir Gold down 8% to $2.02, Sino Gold Mining down 11.4% to $3.11 and Newmont Mining down 3% to $3.95.

Big movers by percentage on the Australian Securities Exchange today included Bellevue Resources, which closed the day up 29% to 9c after announcing it had signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire a privately-held operating copper oxide project.