The market is down 33. The SFE Futures were down 55 this morning.

The Dow closed down 214 after a surge in Spanish and Italian bond yields fuelled concerns that Europe’s debt crisis is worsening. The S&P 500 fell for the fifth day, losing 1.7% to close at 1,358.59. The index has slumped 4.3% in five sessions after closing at an almost four year high on April 2. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index advanced 8.4% for a record eighth straight day. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell by 2.5% as national benchmark indexes dropped 5% in Italy and 3% in Spain and France. Copper lead commodities lower falling 3.25% and oil sank to an eight-week low buying $101.06. Metals were down on LME. The Gold price was up $16.80 to $1660.70. The Aussie dollar strengthened up buying 102.55¢.

Main points:

  • The Westpac/Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index fell by 1.6% to 94.5 index points in April, from 96.1 points in March. Consumer Sentiment has fallen to its lowest level in eight months and comes as a mild surprise. The index is now where it was last August when consumers were worried about the global outlook. It seems people with mortgages appear to have lost confidence after the RBA did not cut rates at its last meeting.
  • Asciano (AIO) says it has been unable to reach an agreement with Maritime Union of Australia over a new workplace agreement for container terminal employees. This is the third time there has been a failure to reach an agreement.
  • Downer EDI (DOW) has won a $90m contract over three years to provide blasting services to Jellinbah Group in QLD’s Bowen Basin. The contract involves providing 23,000 tonnes of explosives as well as down the hole loading, shotfiring and blast design services. This contract will enhance DOW’s position as a leading supplier of blasting services in the Southern Bowen Basin.
  • Gunns (GNS) is planning a name change and relocating its head office from Tasmania to Melbourne as the troubled timber company looks to reinvent itself ahead of a $400m capital raising. The shares remain in suspension until April 16 when it will update the market.
  • Woodside Petroleum (WPL) is close to a striking a deal to sell a $2bn stake in the troubled Browse LNG venture. It got the all clear to defer the final investment decision on the project by up to a year. PetroChina, Mitsubishi, Mitsui, CPC Corp and Korea Gas Corp are said to be interested in buying into the project. The propose project is estimated to cost $30bn.
  • Leighton Holdings (LEI) is working to a tight deadline to complete the $4.1bn Airport Link Project by the end of June. The project has been troubled with delays and cost blowouts since 2008. The project has also been hit with problems between unions and management at the work site.
  • WorleyParsons (WOR) has been awarded a contract by ExxonMobil Canada Properties for the topsides on the Hebron Project. The contract involves front end engineering and design services and exercises ExxonMobil’s option to subsequently award detailed engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services. WOR estimates its portion of the contract is worth US$360m over five years.

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