The market is down 42. The SFE Futures were down 37 this morning.

The Dow closed down 125 and was down 179 at worst. The S&P 500 closed down 1% for the year’s second largest fall on continued weak sentiment after the FOMC on Tuesday shot down hopes of further stimulus measures. European markets were lower — Germany down 2.8%, France down 2.7%.  Metals were down on the LME with copper prices down 3.25%. The gold price fell $57.90 to a 12-week low and is now at $1614.10. Silver was down 6.7%. Oil down $2.01 to $101.99. The Australian dollar continued to slip to 102.71¢. All ten S&P 500 sectors were down — Financials, Materials, Energy and Technology stocks were each down more than 1%.

Main points:

  • Australian Infrastructure Fund (AIX) reported their airport passenger numbers for Feb. Passenger numbers increased by 6.4% which was an ok result. Perth Airport was the highlight recording a 15.7% increase, whilst Athens recorded a decline of 10.7%. AIX is unchanged at 225c.
  • Amcor (AMC) has purchased Aluprint a Mexican Tobacco Packaging plant for US$40m. The plant will give AMC a presence in Mexico which has a large and tobacco packaging market. It is another step in the company’s strategy to expand into Latin America.
  • Insurance Australia Group (IAG) has completed a NZ$380m takeover of New Zealand’s AMI Insurance after receiving approval from regulators. The acquisition excludes all of AMI’s earthquake-related liabilities.
  • QBE Insurance Group (QBE) has said it will stop providing cover to some parts of far north QLD and northern NSW after it was hit hard by natural disasters. The company has also said it will increase premiums by 7% to cover catastrophic damage done in 2011.
  • Macquarie Group (MQG) is being sued for more than $10m by a group of investors over the illegal trading of shares conducted by the company’s equity team. The shares were for Bill Express that collapsed in 2008. The broker involved was convicted over his role in illegal share trading intended to prop up the stock price of Bill Express. The group claims MQG is accountable for losses.
  • Yesterday the ACCC suspended AGL Energy’s (AGK) bid to take full control of Loy Yang Power Station and has asked to provide extra information by April 18. The ACCC had previously planned to make a decision on the proposed transaction by April 9.
  • Seven West Media (SWM) has withdrawn from the Australian Press Council, which is a principal body who respond to complaints about newspapers, magazines and digital news outlets. The company wants to setup an independent complaint resolution body.

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