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The Sydney Morning Herald

NAB plunge keeps market in the red despite US strength

Author: Allison Jackson
Date: 08/11/2002
Words: 750
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Business
Page: 24
The sharemarket dived yesterday after National Australia Bank's disappointing earnings sparked a sell-off in the banks.

Despite a strong night on Wall Street, the ASX 200 fell 37.50 to 3038 and the All Ordinaries fell 34.10 to 3001.90, with 47,500 trades worth $2.06 billion pushed through the market in 2 1/2 hours.

Trading volumes were unaffected by a technical glitch which closed the Australian Stock Exchange for 3 1/2 hours.

Dealers said they managed to process their orders in the 2 1/2 hours before the close.

US markets extended their gains on Wednesday night after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by a bigger-than-expected 50 basis points to stimulate economic activity.

The Dow Jones rose 92.7 to 8771, the S&P 500 gained 8.4 to 923.8 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 17.8 to 1419.

AMP Henderson Global Investors economist Simon Doyle said the decision had ``evaporated" any chance of the Reserve Bank of Australia tightening interest rates in the near future.

``Deep down the RBA may still have a slight bias to tighten, given the resilience of the domestic economy, but the uncertainty over the global outlook would need to lift quickly for the RBA to respond. This seems unlikely, suggesting policy on hold for some time," Mr Doyle said.

NAB dived $1.84 to $32.02 with more than 8 million shares changing hands, after disappointing investors with a lower-than-expected earnings result and reduced guidance for earnings per share growth, said JB Were's head of institutional sales, Basil McIlhagga.

``Lowering their guidance seemed to be the catalyst for the selldown in the share price. The dividend not being 100 per cent fully franked was probably a surprise to a number of people in the market," Mr McIlhagga said.

``In this market even if it is only a small disappointment the market will overreact."

Among the other banks, CBA fell 70c to $27.67 as investors continued to punish the bank following its recent profit warning, Westpac fell 29c to $14.20 and ANZ fell 3c to $18.89.

St George rose 14c to $18.60 after its strong full-year result on Wednesday.

News Corp gave up some of Wednesday's gains following its exceptional first-quarter earnings, falling 56c to $11.75. Dealers said the media group fell after the stock's uninspiring performance in the US overnight.

Computershare dived 37c to $1.93 after the share registry group shocked investors with a warning that first-half profit would fall 25 per cent.

The shares have fallen $3.76 since January.

Qantas bounced back following Wednesday's announcement that rival airline Virgin Blue had sealed a deal to use the former Ansett terminal at Sydney Airport. Shares in the flying kangaroo rallied 7c to $3.88.

Patrick Corp, which holds a stake in Virgin, fell 20c to $14.01, while Macquarie Airports Group, which holds a stake in Sydney Airport, closed steady at $1.

Lion Nathan rose 3c to $5.41 on expectations of double-digit earnings growth in the current financial year.

Rises 418       Falls 503       Steady 291
Dec SPI                         3054.0  -22.0
ASX 200                         3038.9  -36.6
Biz.com Tech            775.7   -47.3
Industrials             3602.6  -20.3
Energy                  3971.5  +12.7
Volume Value            439.6m  2.113bn

Challenger Int          +13.10%
Lihir Gold              +5.22
Peptech                         +4.90
SPC Ardmona             +4.27
Novogen                         +3.68
Grand Hotel Grp                 +3.51
Oil Search              +2.99
CSL                     +2.92
Healthscope             +2.78
Croesus Mining          +2.70

Computershare           -16.09%
Sons of Gwalia          -6.85
NAB                     -5.43
News Corp               -4.55
Novus Petroleum                 -4.17
Billabong Int           -3.81
Burns Philp & Co                -3.45
Toll Hldgs              -3.43
News Corp-PFD           -3.30
Orbital Engine          -2.94
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