The market is down 62 — down 66 at worst — underperforming the 46 point fall predicted by the SFE Futures this morning. RIO under pressure with major brokers talking about $2-3bn in asset sales required next year to lower its debt position $10bn by 2009-end. OZ Minerals continues to be downgraded by brokers on impending asset sales, cash burn and falling commodity prices. Woolworths down 5.0% as it forms a loyalty card alliance with Qantas (down 3.8%). Financials down 1.5%. Resources down 1.3%.

The Dow was down 196. Up 48 at best. Down 249 at worst. Financials fell over on a JP Morgan commentary about the financial outlook — down 8.5%. The $14bn bailout package for the auto industry received strong Republican opposition in the Senate, pushing stocks down throughout the day. Housing sector hit hard. Tech stocks take big falls. Material stocks down. BHP and RIO down 4.31% and 4.22% in ADR form. Metals all up. Oil up 10% to $47.77. Gold up $17.80 to $826.60. Bonds up. A$ up 2.31% against the US dollar. Weekly initial jobless claims up to a 26-year high. US homeowners have cut back on debt levels for the first time on record amidst falling house prices and stock market losses. October’s trade deficit up to $57.2bn from $56.6bn — more than expected. US exports down significantly.

In the news today — relatively quiet this morning.

  • Ausenco (AAX) has been hired to provide engineering services to the Honeymoon uranium project in South Australia. CEO Zimi Meka says the new contract makes up for the lost revenue from the deferred Martabe and Sepon projects.
  • Macquarie Office (MOF) has announced some Capital Management Initiatives — wishes to raise up to $508m, won’t pay a 2Q distribution, 2009 payout ratio revised to 70% of core earnings.
  • HFA Holdings (HFA) has released a company update.

Broker stuff this morning…

  • Bearish recommendations on OZ Minerals this morning after it provided an update on its refinancing negotiations. Macquarie Equities maintain their underperform recommendation and 55c target price.
  • Goldman Sachs JBWere cuts forecasts for Lion Nathan (LNN), Foster’s (FGL) and Coca-Cola Amatil (CCL). GSJBWere say mid-2009 operational conditions will be difficult — unemployment likely to rise, hitting beverage market.
  • UBS Warburg cut their target price on Seek (SEK) to 450c from 595c and maintain their BUY recommendation saying their thesis that online businesses would be more protected in the downturn has proved incorrect so far.

Other stuff today…

  • The Dow Futures suggest a 158 point fall on Wall Street tonight.
  • There is a 20% chance of a January RBA meeting and rate cut. MARCUS PADLEY is the Author of the MARCUS TODAY Daily Stockmarket Newsletter.

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