RTTNews - The Australian market ended in negative territory on Monday as traders preferred to lock in gains from the recent rally and move to the sidelines as fresh concerns about growth prospects emerged after consumer confidence index in the world's largest economy, the U.S., unexpectedly declined overshadowing the news about emergence of Japan from recession in technical terms. Earlier in the day, Japan announced that its GDP for the second quarter recorded an annual growth of 3.7%, boosted by exports and stimulus package from the Government, but fell short of expectations.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 Index lost 72.60 points, or 1.63%, to close at 4,388, and the All-Ordinaries Index ended at 4,398, representing a loss of 67.00 points, or 1.50%.

Light sweet crude oil price for September delivery ended at $66.59 a barrel in electronic trading, down $0.92 from its previous close $67.51 a barrel in New York on Friday.

Metals and mining stocks declined following drop in commodity prices in the international market on Friday.

BHP Billiton declined 2.95%, Gindalbie Metals shed 1.70%, Minara Resources slumped 7.58%, Rio Tinto fell 4.82% and Oz Minerals lost 5.60%. Fortescue Metals, however, bucked the trend and gained 2.92% after announcing that it has agreed to sell 20 million tonnes of iron ore to its customers in China at 35% to 50% discount in prices that prevailed in 2008-09 season.

The largest steelmaker in the country, Bluescope Steel, slumped 6.97% after the company reported that it slipped to a loss of $393 million for the first half of 2009 compared to profit in the corresponding period last year. The steelmaker attributed lower prices and drop in revenue as primary reasons for the loss.

Mixed trading was witnessed among oil stocks following sharp drop in crude oil prices in the international market. Woodside Petroleum lost 1.43% and Santos fell 1.63%. However, Oil Search added 0.36% and Origin Energy advanced 0.92%.

Banks declined sharply on renewed concerns about growth prospects. ANZ Bank lost 2.36%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 3.66%, National Australia Bank declined 2.66% and Westpac Banking shed 2.16%.

Mixed trading was witnessed among the gold stocks. While Newcrest Mining managed to end in positive territory with a gain of 1.72%, Lihir Gold slipped 1.54% and Sino Gold Mining slipped 0.87%.

In the U.S., stocks ended sharply lower on Friday following weak economic data related to consumer sentiment index which dent hopes of a sustainable recovery after a report released earlier in the week revealed that the average consumer in the world's largest economy is still struggling. Late-buying at lower levels, however, helped offset some of the losses.

The Dow closed down by 76.79 points or 0.8% at 9,321, the Nasdaq fell by 23.83 points or 1.2% to 1986 and the S&P 500 slipped by 8.64 points or 0.9% to 1004.

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