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Market Update

Australian Political Uncertainty Saps Market Confidence

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 9:34 AM ET March 21 2013

6:30 PM Sydney Australian political uncertainty sapped market confidence and index managed to trim losses after Prime Minister Julia Gillard settled leadership challenge. Billabong plunged on speculation that the company may not receive firm takeover offers.

Australian stocks felt political jitters by trimmed losses after Prime Minister Julia Gillard settled political leadership challenge from Labor Party stalwart Simon Crean.

The ASX 200 index slid 7.90 to 4,959.40 and the broader All Ordinaries lowered 5.81 to 4,976.75.

Australian dollar traded near one-month high and closed at $1.042.

Stock Movers

Rio Tinto climbed 82 cents to $58.30 and BHP fell 13 cents to $33.49. Fortescue Metals Group slipped 11 cents to $3.91.

Woodside Petroleum increased 77 cents to $37.02 and Santos slid 1 cent to $12.64.

Newcrest Mining dropped 54 cents to $21.96. Kingsgate up 2 cents to $4.01 and Whitehaven Coal lowered 3 cents to $2.25.

Billabong plunged to a record low since 2000 to 63 cents and last traded at 69.5 cents after the company halted the stock to investigate the 20% decline. The company has requested the halt till Monday.

Investors are losing faith that the company may not receive either of the two proposals as a firm offer for acquisition that value the company at $1.10 a share or $527 million.

Last month, the company recorded a loss after it wrote down $567 million of assets and posted 80% of its assets and 85% of its earnings as collateral to its lenders.

David Jones Limited fell 1 cent to $3.07 and Breville Group gained 13 cents to $5.54. Billabong plunged 11.5 cents or 14.2% to 69.5 cents and Globe International closed unchanged at 40 cents.

Premier Investments gained 2% or 16 cents to $7.86 after the retailer of branded jeans reported first half profit increased 21%.

Woolworths slumped 24 cents to $33.73. Kathmandu closed unchanged at $1.96.

Toll Holdings slipped 10 cents to $5.59, Leighton decreased 23 cents to $21.70 and Mirvac Group closed unchanged at $1.63. Lend Lease lowered 15 cents to $9.72.

Westpac gained 14 cents to $30.08, Commonwealth fell 0.7% to $68.65 and National Australia Bank slid 0.5% to $30.35 and ANZ increased 31 cents to $28.14.

Macquarie Group declined $1.26 to $35.72 and Wesfarmers dropped 80 cents to $40.30.

Brickworks increased 2.6% or 33 cents to $12.88 after the company reported first half profit increased 3.7% to $56.08 million.

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