RTTNews - The Australian stock market ended the first day of the financial year 2009-10 on a weak note, losing more than 1.5%, on weak cues from Wall Street and an unexpected drop in domestic home approvals. Concerns about a recovery gripped investors ahead of the release of key economic data in the U.S.
In the U.S., stocks ended sharply lower in negative territory, dragged down by lower-than-expected consumer confidence numbers.
The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index, a closely watched measure of home prices, showed a 0.6% decline from March to April, according to a survey of prices in 20 U.S. cities. Home prices were down 18.1% compared to the same period last year.
A report from the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to 49.3 in June from a revised 54.8 in May. Economists expected the index to edge up to 55.3 from the 54.9 originally reported for the previous month. Separately, the Institute for Supply Management - Chicago said its index of activity in the manufacturing sector jumped to 39.9 in June from 34.9 in May
The Dow closed down by 82.38 points or 1% at 8,447, the Nasdaq dipped by 9.02 points or 0.5% to 1,835, and the S&P 500 fell 7.91 points or 0.9% to 919.
The All Ordinaries Index opened unchanged from its previous close at 3,948 and drifted swiftly into negative territory on weak clues from Wall Street. Mixed economic data and softening commodity prices also dented hopes of an early recovery After the initial slump, the index moved sideways for the rest of the session and ended with a loss of 75.50 points, or 1.91%, at 3,872. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index followed a similar trend and ended at 3,874, representing a loss of 80.90 points, or 2.05%.
Light sweet crude for August delivery ended at $70.23, up 34 cents in the Asian session after ending Tuesday's volatile session in New York at $69.89, representing a loss of $1.60 a barrel amid increasing concerns about the recovery.
On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that Building approvals in the country were down a seasonally adjusted 12.5% in May compared to the previous month, snapping the three months of gains. Analysts had been expecting a 3.0 percent gain after the revised 4.1 percent increase in April. In a separate report, the Statistics Bureau revealed that retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 1% in May, faster than a 0.3% increase in April and double the economists' expectation for a 0.5% rise. Analysts were apprehensive of the surprise increase in retail sales during May, attributing the recent spurt to stimulus handouts from the government and do not expect the rising trend to last long.
Metal stocks ended weaker following a drop in metal prices in London Metal Exchange. BHP Billiton declined 2.36%, Rio Tinto lost 1.15%, Oz Minerals ifell 3.29% and Fortescue Metals declined 2.64%.
Among oil companies, Woodside Petroleum fell 1.76%, and Santos lost 1.43%. However, Oil Search bucked the trend and gained 1.10%.
Retailer David Jones, which soared more than 10% on Tuesday after raising its guidance for the year, declined 2.20%. Among others in the retail space, Harvey Norman lost 1.82% and Wesfarmers declined 1.77%.
Financial stocks also ended in negative territory on concerns about growth. ANZ Bank lost 1.43%, Commonwealth Bank Australia fell 2.23%, National Australia Bank shed 3.34% and Westpac Banking Corp. declined 2.81%.
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