The S&P/ASX 200 index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) lost steam throughout the day after a strong early rise, ending the day up 0.1% at 4,283.3. Concerns about China’s economic growth as well as a growing lack of stimulus action on behalf of the US and European central banks, were likely to have dragged the market down.

The Australian dollar fell slightly against the greenback, but is still buying 105.5 US cents.

Company News

BlueScope Steel Limited’s (ASX: BSL) shares rose 34% to 35 cents, after the company announced plans to sell half of its Asian and North American building products businesses to Nippon Steel Corp for US$540m. The company has required government support to prop it up, and this capital injection is likely to give the company some much needed breathing space, but may not be much consolation for shareholders who bought in at $8, a few years ago.

Westfield Group (ASX: WDC), Westfield Retail Trust (ASX: WRT) and AMP Limited (ASX: AMP) have announced that they are in confidential discussions to divvy up their shopping centre interests. The trio have combined interests in at least six shopping centres, according to The Weekend Australian.

An uncertain outlook around the US housing recovery, and a view that the Australian construction market was deteriorating has seen James Hardie Industries (ASX: JHX) shares slammed down by 6%, despite reporting an 11% increase in fourth quarter operating profit over the previous year. Meanwhile, clothes line and TV aerial supplier, Hills Holdings Limited (ASX: HIL) has seen its share price rise by more than 10%, after reporting a profit of $26m on revenues of more than $1 billion, and a turnaround on last years’ $75m loss.

Winners and losers

From the majors, Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM) and GPT Group (ASX: GPT) both closed up more than 4%, while QBE Insurance Group (ASX: QBE), Westfield Group and Westfield Retail Trust were the losers, all falling more than 2.6%.

The Foolish bottom line

Companies price for failure, or at least long term underperformance, can display surprising rises on positive news, while companies priced for perfection can see their shares prices fall when they fail to meet investors lofty expectations.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in QBE. The Motley Fool‘s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free 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 your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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