Australia Stocks Sink Across Board, But Metcash Rallies

MarketWatch Pulse

Australian stocks suffered a Monday depression, with many of the heaviest-weighted sectors trading firmly in the loss column. The S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.7% about an hour into the session, with energy shares particularly soft after losses for crude-oil futures (Oil Search Ltd. down 2.3%, Woodside Petroleum Ltd. down 2%, Beach Energy Ltd. down 2.8%). Downbeat reports over Greece's debt negotiations with its creditors helped drag some of the banks significantly lower (Westpac Banking Corp. down 1.5%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia down 1.2%, Macquarie Group Ltd. down 1%). Among the miners, uranium extractor Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. plunged more than 19% after losing nearly half its value in the previous session on news it was canceling a key project, while its top shareholder, Rio Tinto Ltd. , traded 0.3% weaker. Also in the mining space, BHP Billiton Ltd. eased 0.4%, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. fell 1.2%, Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. lost 2%, and Arrium Ltd. traded 1.9% lower after cutting its outlook for earnings and investment. Meanwhile, media major Ten Network fell 1.9% amid news Foxtel was buying 15% of the company and that Ten planned to raise further funds through the issue of new shares. Foxtel is owned by Telstra Corp. and MarketWatch parent News Corp. , which traded lower by 0.8% and 0.4%, respectively. The retail sector had some bright spots, however, with Metcash Ltd. rallying 2.7% after posting a net loss for the fiscal year but, more to the point, announcing the sale of its automotive unit. Shares of Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. improved by 1.1%, with Morgan Stanley having raised its price target for the stock late last week.

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