Investors were hit again yesterday as the Australian sharemarket
continued its steep fall, racking up its biggest two-day decline
since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and wiping $40
billion from the value of shares, reports The Age. The Australian market was being valued more highly than its
international peers ahead of this correction, an unusual situation
that appears to be being corrected, says Malcolm Maiden in The Smage. But this still does not look like a rout. Global growth is still quite solid. China is complicating the
picture, but over the long term, China is a growth story, and the
world can share in it.

Speculation in London that Computershare has joined forces with
Macquarie Bank to launch an imminent, and audacious, bid for the
venerable London Stock Exchange couldn’t be confirmed yesterday. It
does, however, have a ring of authenticity, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Smage. While in Britain it might be a shock that an Australian bank with
modest roots in the UK would contemplate controlling one of the
pillars of the British financial establishment, the “Macquarie
Model,” generates an insatiable appetite for more
ambitious growth and there is nothing unrealistic about its
interest in the LSE.

In a blow to the long-delayed $4 billion Papua New Guinea gas
pipeline, BHP Billiton yesterday pulled out of a conditional
agreement to buy gas from the project, reports The SMH. Although the pipeline still has enough customers to make it
economically viable, BHP’s announcement highlighted the
importance of solidifying sales agreements, which are all still
conditional.

And The Australian reports that a trade sale worth up to $500 million to Kerry
Packer or Telstra’s Sensis division may overtake plans by Australia’s leading
accommodation site wotif.com for a public listing early next year.

On Wall Street, US stocks closed lower overnight, with the market
unnerved by inflation worries, as
well as fears over the course of interest rates and energy prices. The
Dow Jones closed down 30.26 points at 10,287 – its weakest close since
July 6. MarketWatch has a full report here.

Peter Fray

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