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Market Update

ASX 200 in Sydney Drops 2% on Commodities Gloom

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 10:37 AM ET December 14 2015

5:30 PM Sydney, Australia – ASX 200 plummeted 2% on Monday on the deepening commodities plunge. Australian dollar declined below 72 U.S. cents. Austal secured a $63 million contract with National Australia Bank.

The Australian market indexes dropped below the 5000 mark, following an extended weakness in commodities, the deepening decline in crude oil prices, and caution ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy meeting.

The price of crude oil dropped to a new seven-year low in New York to $35.52 a barrel.

The rout in copper, iron ore and coal also deepened as demand from the construction sector in China continued to soften.

The renminbi slipped to a four-year low against the U.S. dollar after the People’s Bank of China said it would measure the exchange rate against a broader basket of currencies.

The Australian dollar slipped to 71.97 U.S. cents and trading turnover jumped to 881 million shares worth $5.5 billion.

At the market close, the ASX 200 Index plummeted 100.90 or 2% to 4,928.60, while the broader All Ordinaries Index declined 96.70 to 4,981.90.

In commodities trading, gold increased US$8 to US$1,076 an ounce and Brent crude future for immediate month delivery slid 18 cents to US$37.75 a barrel.

Australian Stock Movers

Austal Limited declined 3.7% to $1.56 after the vessel maker announced that it secured a shipbuilding contract with the National Australia Bank to construct two further Cape Class Patrol Boats for $63 million.

Smartgroup Corporation Ltd surged 27.6% to $4.86 after the car leasing and salary packaging company forecasted revenues for the year to soar 24% to $90 million and net profit to jump 49% to $26 million.

The company also agreed to acquire Advantage Salary Packaging for $60.8 million in cash and stock. The transaction is expected to complete by the end of this month.

Worleyparsons Limited plunged 7.8% to $4.26 on the market weakness and the engineering services provider secured a $120 million contract with the Bahrain Petroleum Company to modernize refineries in the Middle East.

Separately, the company won a contract with a Canadian exploration and production company for consulting, engineering and procurement services over five years.

The contract value and the name of the Canadian company were not disclosed.

Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc