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The ASX was handed a weak lead from US stock market falls overnight. This along with further falls in the price of crude and more weakness in iron ore and coal suggested the ASX was going to come under heavy selling pressure in trade today.

Against that backdrop however the performance of the market was solid, ending down just 18 points.

The source of the strength however was the surprise increase in Chinese exports during December which increased 9.9% against expectations of a 6.8% rise. This helped lift the Aussie dollar in particular off its lows but also helped the ASX was recovering slightly at the time of the release off the low of the day at 5,378.

Here’s the scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 5,404.7 -18 (-0.3%)
  • All Ordinaries: 5,382.1 -17.4 (-0.3%)
  • AUD/USD: 0.8165 +0.0008 (+0.1%)

Given the fresh lows in oil and the continued reversal in iron ore it’s no surprise the energy and materials sectors of the ASX lead the falls, dropping 1.73% and 0.91% respectively.

On specific stocks BHP’s woes continued as it lost another 2.07% today. Other miners to suffer heavily loses were Mt Gibson, and Atlas Iron which both lsot more than 11% of their value. BC Iron fell 6.62% and Lynas dropped 6.35%. Rio Tinto was also under pressure down 1.69% and of the big 4 banks and Macquarie only Westpac, which lead the pack for the second day running, were able to eke out a positive gain on the day.

Here are the top business stories today.

  1. TD Securities says that Chinese stocks at these levels can’t last. Even though Shanghai has been marching to the beat of its own bullish drum that won’t be good for local stocks or the Aussie dollar.
  2. ANZ cconsumer sentiment was disappointing and showed that Australian’s are saving – rather than spending – the windfall of lower petrol prices.
  3. But HSBC says don’t worry lower petrol prices will eventually drive sentiment 25% higher and push up consumption helping the economy.
  4. Morgan Stanley says however that domestic growth in Australia is going to be near recession levels.

Here’s the chart.