Yesterday the Australian share market closed at a three-year low, dragged down by the finance and energy sectors. This morning the S&P/ASX200 index opened 5.5% lower, losing 235.5 points to 4085.4 - its lowest point since May 2005. It recently traded at 4120.8, a fall of 200 poitns, or 4.6% for the day.
Share price index futures were trading down 4.2%, or 180 points, to 4120.
Today the Australia dollar has opened lower after a weak finish to US equity markets dragged the currency below $US0.6900. At 7am AEDT, the dollar was trading at $US0.6841/46, down from yesterday's close of $US0.6922/27.
Oil prices have sunk today, with worries about a global financial crisis overshadowing news of an emergency OPEC meeting next month to discuss its impact on oil demand. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, fell $US2.36 to close at $US86.59 a barrel.
Key Economic Facts and Figures
The Melbourne Institute survey of consumer inflationary expectations found the expected median inflation rate was 4.4 per cent in October, the same as last month. The measure had fallen for the previous two months, with the last increase in June this year.
The jobless rate rose to a seasonally adjusted 4.3% in September from 4.1% in August. Just 2,200 new jobs were created in the month, while full-time employment plunged 15,400, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Thursday.
The International Monetary Fund forecast this week Australia would grow by 2.5% in 2008 before slowing to 2.2% in 2009, a more robust outlook than that flagged for the world's largest economies.
Economists expect the RBA to swiftly lower its official cash rate target to around 5.0% by early 2009 from 6.0% now, in an effort to fortify the economy against the threatened global recession.
The Australian arm of Royal Dutch Shell(LSE:RDSA)( NYSE:RDS.A) has bought a controlling stake in coal-seam gas explorer Pure Energy Resources(ASX:PES) after purchasing 14.9 per cent of shares from Mathews Capital Partners.
Adelaide Resources(ASX:AND) will leave the mineral sands business after agreeing to offload its 49 percent stake in South Australia's Colona mineral sands joint venture to Iluka Resources, a former partner of Adelaide Resources. Adelaide Resources will focus on other projects including the Northern Territory's Rover copper-gold project.
Junior oil and gas explorer Molopo Australia Ltd(ASX:MPO) is considering joint venturing or selling outright its stake in the Gloucester Basin project in New South Wales. Molopo said several parties had shown "persistent interest" in acquiring or assisting in the development of the project in recent months.
Important Corporate News
Gloves and condoms maker Ansell(ASX:ANN) has maintained its earnings per share guidance of US70 cents to US74cents despite raw material costs and global financial turmoil.
Toll Holdings(ASX:TOL) says it is positioned to pursue growth opportunities and to manage the downturn in economic conditions. Toll booked a net loss for 2007-08 of A$695 million following a net adverse charge of A$952 million arising mainly from the restructure of its investment in airline Virgin Blue(ASX:VBA) and a gain on the sale of rail and ferry operations in New Zealand.
Crane Group Ltd (ASX:CRG) today warned that net profit before significant items would be down about 12pc in the first half and flat for the full year. The company also announced the acquisition of a further 20pc equity interest in Mitchell Water Australia Pty Ltd, increasing its shareholding in Mitchell to 40pc.
Virgin Blue Holdings Limited
Toll Holdings Limited
Royal Dutch Shell
Pure Energy Resources Limited
Molopo Energy Limited
Iluka Resources Limited
Crane Group Limited
Andromeda Metals Ltd