SYDNEY -- The S&P/ASX 200 index (INDEX: ^AXJO ) fell 0.5% to close at 4,098.3 on news that China's imports for May rose just 6.3%, less than half the 12.7% forecast, according to Reuters. The market staged an early rise, but the news from China hit our markets, and shares plummeted.
China's imports from Australia in June rose just 1.7% from a year ago. Chinese domestic demand sagged, which is bad news for our exporters, including resources companies. China is our biggest export market.
Nouriel Roubini -- known in the popular press as Doctor Doom -- has predicted that the global economy will suffer a perfect storm next year that could be worse than the GFC. By 2013, he said, the eurozone debt crisis could speed up as the U.S. heads for recession and emerging-market countries, Brazil, Russia, China, and India slow down sharply. And all that could be compounded by an inevitable war among the U.S., Iran, and Israel. Talk about doomsaying.
The Australian dollar has fallen slightly against the U.S. dollar as investors seek a safe haven. It's currently trading around $1.02.
After rising 17% in the last five days, Myer Holdings (ASX: MYR.AX) shares fell 7% to $1.67 following the aborted David Jones (ASX: DJS.AX) takeover bid and renewed enthusiasm for retail stocks.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that prices for business-class seats are at their lowest levels in real terms in almost 20 years, thanks to ongoing competition for corporate travelers between Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN.AX) and Virgin Australia Holdings (ASX: VAH.AX).
BHP Billiton has been ranked the ninth-most profitable company in the Fortune 500, ahead of companies like Microsoft, Volkswagen, Ford, Wal-Mart, IBM, and GE. However, it lost 1% on the day nonetheless.
Winners and losers
Of the top 10 stocks on the ASX, only Telstra Corporation managed to end up, rising AU$0.03 to AU$3.81. Westpac Banking Corporation was the best of the banks, ending flat.
Newcrest Mining Limited led the falls in the majors, dropping more than 3% to end at AU$22.67, a far cry from its 52 week high of AU$41.50. Brambles Limited saw its shares lose 1.8%, ending at AU$6.14, while Rio Tinto slid 1%.
The Foolish bottom line
The Australian market continues to find reasons to post losses, and investors seem to have one eye on the exit. Something tells me this may prove a missed opportunity in five years' time.
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