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Billabong a winner, and is Woolworths about to be broken up?

The S&P/ASX 200 index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) fell 0.3% to close at 4,157.8, following weak leads from European and US 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 per cent growth compared to last year.

Bernstein Research have estimated that three liquefied natural gas projects being developed in Queensland are likely to face costs blowouts of up to $20 billion, according to a report in today’s Australian Financial Review. Santos Limited (ASX: STO) recently brought forward an additional $2.5 billion in capital expenditure on its Gladstone LNG project. Origin Energy Limited (ASX: ORG) has also warned that it faced increased costs of its Australia Pacific LNG venture. In May this year, BG Group announced that it was facing 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) and Coles – owned by Wesfarmers Limited (ASX: WES), than asylum seekers. He said that tactics employed by both Coles and Woolies were hurting Australian farmers and producers and should be addressed at a Federal level. Meanwhile Senator Nick Xenaphon has argued that the only way to solve the issue is to break up both companies and limit them to 20% market share – compared to the current combined 80% estimated market share.

Winners and losers

Billabong International Limited (ASX: BBG) was a winner, closing up 12.5% to $1.17. The move was likely spurred by news yesterday that Macquarie Group Limited (ASX: MQG) 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 – outlined above, miners were down, with BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) shedding 1% and 1.5% respectively, while Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) didn’t fare well either, dropping 1%.

Foolish takeaway

Investors will be eagerly watching the US job figures, which will be released tonight, our time.  The results are likely to influence the direction Wall Street takes.

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More reading

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  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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