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Market Update

Australia Halts 10-Day Rally, Woolworths Sales Rise 4.8%

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 8:50 AM ET January 31 2013

6:30 PM Sydney Australian stocks halted a ten-day rally ahead of earnings season next week. For the month, ASX 200 index increased 4.9%, the fastest monthly advance in a year. Pharmaxis plunged after it failed to win a recommendation for a drug approval. Woolworths first half sales increased 4.8%.

Stocks in Sydney halted a ten-day rally after investors booked profit ahead of earnings season next week.

Market sentiment was weak after the dollar declined for the second week in a row on the worries that the economy may face slowdown if weakness in the mining sector persists.

The ASX 200 index slipped 17.90 to 4,878.80 and the broader All Ordinaries decreased 18.04 to 4,901.02. For the month end ASX 200 index climbed 4.6%

The Australian dollar declined and closed at $1.041 after the rating agency said the resource sector dependent Australia faces intermediate risk from the mining industry slowdown.

Stock Movers

Mining stocks were lower despite the spot iron ore price increasing to US$149.50.

Yancoal closed unchanged at 90 cents and Fortescue Metals Group slid 5 cents to $4.68.

Newcrest Mining rose 18 cents to $23.40. Kingsgate up 3 cents to $4.03 and Whitehaven Coal declined 19 cents or 5.5% to $3.28.

Whitehaven Coal declined 5.5% to $3.28 after the coal miner estimated lower earnings on strong dollar, weak prices and train derailment disruptions.

Transfield Services slid 1 cent to $1.78 and engineering contractor WorleyParsons dropped 58 cents to $25.23. Monadelphous Group slumped 21 cents to $26.64 and Downer EDI closed unchanged at $4.50.

Lend Lease increased 13 cents to $10.36.

Oil Search Limited closed unchanged at $7.30 and Santos Limited slipped 18 cents to $11.96. Beach Energy fell 2 cents to $1.42.

Woodside Petroleum declined 53 cents to $35.47 and Origin Energy Limited jumped 14 cents to $12.59.

Woolworths decreased 41 cents to $31.24 after the retailer reported disappointing quarterly results. First half sales increased 4.8% to $30 billion and its supermarket division sales increased 4.7% to $20.5 billion.

Quarterly sales in the supermarket division gained 4.8% to $10.3 billion and comparable quarterly sales rose 2.5%.

Two largest grocery retailers Coles and Woolworths control 70% of grocery retailing in Australia. Germany based discount grocery retailer has been stepping up its expansion and manages close to 300 stores.

Kathmandu gained 3 cents to $1.77 and Wesfarmers dropped 53 cents to $37.60

David Jones Limited fell 4 cents to $2.50 and Wesfarmers dropped 53 cents to $37.60. Breville Group added 2 cents to $6.79.

Billabong rose 1 cent to 93.5 cents.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia slipped 25 cents to $64.45 and Bank of Queensland slid 3 cents to $8.22 and ANZ closed unchanged at $26.58. National Australia Bank declined 28 cents to $27.36. Westpac decreased 13 cents to $28.04.

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