ASX Market Wrap: Billabong's a Winner, and Woolworths May Be Broken Up


SYDNEY --The S&P/ASX 200 index (INDEX: ^AXJO) fell 0.3% to close at 4,157.8 following weak leads from European and U.S. markets. Chinese and European Central Bank interest rate cuts overnight appear to have scared the market, rather than promote optimism.

China's vice premier said today that the country will have difficulty meeting its 10% trade growth target. China is expected to release its June trade data next week, with analysts expecting exports to come in at 9.9% growth over last year.

Bernstein Research has estimated that three liquefied-natural-gas projects being developed in Queensland are likely to face cost blowouts of up to $20 billion, according to a report in today's Australian Financial Review. Santos Limited (ASX: STO.AX) recently brought forward an additional $2.5 billion in capital expenditure on its Gladstone LNG project. Origin Energy Limited (ASX: ORG.AX) has also warned that it faces increased costs from its Australia Pacific LNG venture. In May this year, BG Group announced a 36% cost overrun on its LNG project.

Federal MP Bob Katter said today that politicians should be more worried about the market power of Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW.AX) and Coles -- owned by Wesfarmers Limited (ASX: WES.AX) -- than about asylum seekers. He said tactics employed by both Coles and Woolies were hurting Australian farmers and producers and should be addressed at a federal level. Meanwhile, Senator Nick Xenophon has argued that the only way to solve the issue is to break up both companies and limit them to 20% market share, compared with the current combined 80% estimated market share.

Winners and losers
Billabong International
was a winner, closing up 12.5% to AU$1.17. The move was likely spurred by news yesterday that Macquarie Group had become a substantial shareholder with the purchase of 23.9 million shares, or 5.8% of the group.

Thanks to more China growth fears, miners were down. BHP Billiton Limited and Rio Tinto Limited shed 1% and 1.5%, respectively, while Fortescue Metals Group didn't fare well either, dropping 1%.

Foolish takeaway
Markets look somewhat weakened following a disappointing U.S. jobs report; only 80,000 jobs were created in June -- far below consensus estimates of 90,000.

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At the time thisarticle was published Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in BHP and Woolworths. The Motley Fool's purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool's investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request , while it's still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorized by Bruce Jackson.The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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