The market is down 40. The SFE Futures were down 59 this morning.

The Dow closed down 204, its worst single day this year, on a number of concerns including 3.5% falls in European markets, doubts about the Greek swap deal required for Greece to avoid default, a weaker than expected EU GDP number suggesting a double dip recession, concerns about the ECB’s $2.7bn balance sheet after LTRO 2, weaker than expected Chinese growth forecasts and weaker than expected Brazilian GDP. European markets closed lower. Gold was down $29.30 to $1674.60.  Metals were down sharply on the LME. The Aussie dollar continued its fall to 105.50¢ from 106.68¢. Oil was down $1.80 to $104.92.

Main points:

  • Telstra’s (TLS) wholesale unit has signed up its first mobile customer iTelecom Wholesale. iTelecom will soon launch handheld and wireless services over the 3G network. TLS also announced it has finalised its $11bn agreement with the federal government and NBN Co. It will receive the funds over the life of the agreements.
  • Sydney Airports (SYD) has established a base for Tiger Airways at it’s Sydney airport from July this year. This will include 38 daily flights to and from Sydney, additional 3600 seats per day and the creation of 150 new jobs.
  • Rio Tinto Alcan (RIO) has announced it will close its Lynemouth aluminium smelter in Northumberland England at the end of this month. More than 300 staff will be made redundant.
  • Amcor (AMC) has agreed to buy Aperio Group for $238m subject to approval from ACCC. Aperio is one of Asia Pacific’s leading producers of flexible packaging and has annual revenues of $350m. Final decision by ACCC is on March 29.
  • Billionaire Gina Rinehart has asked for a board seat at Fairfax Media (FXJ) when she visited the company yesterday. She holds a 12.58% stake in the company. The Fairfax board is considering its options.
  • Australian retailers have been targeted by private equity firms in the past few months with Billabong International (BBG) and Pacific Brands (PBG) receiving takeover bids. Citigroup analysts believe Specialty Fashion (SFH) and Harvery Norman (HVN) may be the next private equity targets as  buyout deals could be very profitable.
  • QBE Insurance Group (QBE) has announced it is close to completing acquisitions that it believes will boost premium income by $467m. QBE is currently conducting a capital raising for $600m which will be used to replace its debt.
  • Goodman Fielder (GFF) is proceeding with the sale of its fats and oils and New Zealand milling assets despite the takeover offer by Wilmar International. The sale will raise $200m.
  • The Australian GDP number is below expectations at +0.4% instead of the +0.7% expected and the 3rd Q number revised down from +1.0% to +0.8%. The Yon Y seasonally adjusted number to December is up 2.3% versus the 2.4% expected.

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