Not much. Australian market is about as exciting as watching Canada and Kenya to play cricket in India, in a competition that some wag thought should be called the World Cup. I think the third eleven of my old school will give some teams run for their money.

Doesn’t sound like there’s much of interest to report at all?

I wouldn’t say that. Three men and a dog watched the Canada-Kenya game in a stadium built to hold a crowd of 100,000, but the action on the ASX was at least well-followed by investors all round world, even if they weren’t exactly riveted by what the traders got up to. With that in mind, we’ll ferret out the more interesting movements in the Aussie market to brighten things up. But before we do that, let’s just set the scene. The all ordinaries index lost two per cent last week. The metals and minerals index lost 2.2 per cent, and the gold index eased by one per cent. One major event that affected the Australian market was, naturally, Libya’s growing civil war. But there was also concern about China’s continued tightening of its red-hot economy, and about yet another grand tax plan from the Australian Government.

You’re not serious? Another new tax on top of the mining tax?

Yup. The latest is a proposed carbon tax. Not a carbon trading scheme, just a flat tax, which we are told will become a trading scheme sometime in the future, maybe. Mining and oil will be hit hard by the new tax, which could harvest around A$3.5 billion a year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the creation of the Green Party, which is having an increasing say in how the country is being run. All of which means is that we’ve had three new taxes proposed in less than 12-months: the mining tax, a flood levy, and now the carbon tax.

Sounds like the current government might have a death wish.

No doubt about that, especially as the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said several times in the campaign before the August election that she would not introduce a carbon tax. Her exact words, on August 16th were: “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”. The critics have been merciless over that clear breaking of a promise, referring to her as “Ju-Liar” Gillard, a tag which seems to be catching.

Enough of the background. Time for prices, starting with the exceptional performers, followed by a call of the card.

Trawling through companies you’ve probably never heard of is always fun, and is often a way to discover or rediscover one or two fresh investment ideas. One bright light last week was Aguia Resources (AGR), which rose by A29 cents to A$1.20 in early Friday trade, as in interest in its plans for potash production in Brazil grew. The shares then eased somewhat to close at A$1.07, an overall gain for the week of A16 cents. Another company attracting interest was Alcyone (AYN), which rose A1.4 cents to A6.3 cents in response to the ongoing strength in the silver price. Meanwhile, another silver player, Cobar Consolidated (CCU), continued to move up, adding A5 cents to A93 cents. And Corazon Mining (CZN) caught the eyes of a few traders, on the strength of its exposure to Colombian platinum, and because it’s the latest plaything of Ed Nealon, the man who helped create Aquarius Platinum. Corazon’s shares rose A1 cent to A11.5 cents. In percentage terms the best of the new names was Metaliko (MKO), which reported encouraging gold assays from its Anthill prospect in Western Australia. Among the best was 44 metres at 2.4 grams of gold a tonne from a depth of 56 metres. That result helped Metaliko add A7 cents to A21.5 cents, though the shares did get as high as A24 cents on Friday.

Interesting. But now let’s switch across to the sectors, starting with gold.

Good choice because gold was the only sector that produced more than a couple of risers, though even here most gains were modest. Among the notable performers, Allied (ALD) added A4.5 cents to A65 cents, Crusader (CAS) put on A5 cents to A$1.14, and Kingsrose (KRM) gained A4.5 cents to A$1.37. Silver Lake (SLR) was also better off, up A14 cents to A$2.05 after a positive presentation by its chief executive, Les Davis, at an explorer’s conference in Fremantle. After that it was all down. Among the fallers, Troy (TRY) fell A9 cents to A$3.73, Kingsgate (KCN) fell A31 cents to A$9.35, Mt Isa Metals (MET) fell A6 cents to A62 cents, Ausgold (AUC) fell A15 cents to A$1.40, and Resolute (RSG) fell A7 cents to A$1.32.

Base metals next, please.

There was weakness right across the copper, nickel and zinc sectors, barring a handful of minor upward moves. The best performances in copper came from Hot Chili (HCH) which put on A2.5 cents to A66 cents, and Sumatra Copper (SUM), which rose half a cent to A28.5 cents. Best of the zinc companies was Overland (OVR), which announced an expanded resource at its Darcy project in Canada. In response, shares in Overland rose by A1.5 cents to A26 cents, but did get as high as A30 cents on Friday. No nickel company rose.

Elsewhere in the copper space, it was all down. Equinox (EQN) fell A21 cents to A$6.22. Exco (EXS) fell A5 cents to A58 cents. Marengo (MGO) fell A2.5 cents to A30 cents. Sandfire (SFR) fell A2 cents to A$7.24. OZ (OZL) fell A7 cents to A$1.64. Discovery (DML) fell A11 cents to A$1.26. In nickel, it was no better. Independence (IGO) fell A16 cents to A$6.82. Mincor (MCR) fell A5 cents to A$1.69. Panoramic (PAN) fell A20 cents to A$2.27. Finally, Western Areas (WSA) fell A22 cents to A$6.68.

In zinc, Perilya (PEM) fell A5 cents to A62 cents, Prairie Downs (PDZ) fell A4 cents to A20.5 cents, and Terramin (TZN) fell A3 cents to A39.5 cents.

Across to iron ore and coal.

It was a similar picture in both iron ore and coal: most down, a few up. The only rise of real interest among the iron ore companies came from Brockman (BRM) which added A39 cents to A$5.49, as it continues to resist the curious takeover bid from Hong Kong’s Wah Nam taxi-hire firm. The only rise of interest among the coal companies came from the coking coal explorer, Carabella (CLR) which added a sharp A35 cents to A$2.25.

Elsewhere in iron ore it was all down. BC Iron (BCI) fell A7 cents to A$3.04, even though it loaded its first shipload of ore this week. Fortescue (FMG) fell A38 cents to A$6.50, despite reporting a major new discovery. Also weaker were Atlas (AGO), down A7 cents to A$3.90, Gindalbie (GBG), down A4 cents to A$1.14, and Iron Ore Holdings (IOH), down A10 cents to A$1.70.

In coal, Aston (AZT) fell A39 cents to A$8.82, Coal of Africa (CZA) fell A7 cents to A$1.39, Riversdale (RIV) fell A52 cents to A$15.18, and Stanmore (SMR) fell A3 cents to A$1.22.

Uranium and the minor metals to close, please.

Uranium companies were hammered by the sharp fall in the uranium price following reports that a Chinese utility was selling part of its stockpile. Manhattan (MHC) fell A18 cents to A98 cents. Berkeley (BKY) fell A10 cents to A$1.49. Bannerman (BMN) fell A5.5 cents to A76.5 cents. Extract (EXT) fell A41 cents to A$9.15, and Paladin (PDN) fell A16 cents to A$4.98.

In potash, the best performer was South Boulder (STB), which managed to rise by A40 cents to a fresh all-time high of A$5.13, before easing to end the week at A$5.00.

The minor metal companies were mostly weaker too. In tin, Venture (VMS) dropped A2 cents to A53 cents, and Kasbah (KAS) dropped A2 cents to A33.5 cents. The rare earth companies, Lynas (LYC), Arafura (ARU) and Alkane (ALK) lost ground too. Lynas fell A3 cents to A41.90, Arafura fell A4 cents to A$1.22, while Alkane fell A8 cents to A$1.16. Lithium companies were also weaker. Galaxy (GXY) lost A9 cents to A$1.44, and Orocobre (ORE) slipped A15 cents lower to A$3.05. Reed Resources (RDR) also fell, A5 cents weaker at A65 cents after it announced a big capital raising to pay for its acquisition of the Meekatharra gold assets of Mercator Gold.


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