ASX continues to bleed

The S&P / ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has extended yesterday’s fall, losing 0.3% to end at 4,950.8, after earlier hitting 4,914 as gold and other commodities recovered some of the massive falls they experienced yesterday. Overnight the Dow Jones lost 1.8%, while the S&P 500 lost 2.3% on news that China’s growth had slowed.

The Australian dollar has continued its falls against the US dollar, fetching 103.7 cents.

These three stocks were the best performers in the top 20.

Brambles Limited (ASX: BXB) added 1.2% to close at $8.28. In February the pallet pooling company guided to a full year net profit after tax of just over US$1 billion, with its CHEP USA pallets business performing an impressive turnaround. The falling Australian dollar should also help Brambles, with much of its earnings coming from the US.

Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) gained 0.9% to close at $34.76, as investors gave ‘riskier’ assets like resource companies the flick and went in search of companies with defensive qualities. You can’t really get another Australian stock that’s more defensive than Woolworths, which operates supermarkets, hotels, liquor stores, home improvement and hardware and reportedly the largest owner of poker machines in Australia, and pays a full franked dividend of just under 4% as well.

Telstra Corporation (ASX: TLS) was also up 0.9%, rising to $4.69. Yet another defensive stock, Australia’s largest telco is still offering a 6% fully franked dividend yield at the current price. With its legendary, fully franked 28 cent dividend, Telstra is the darling of Aussie investors.

Chances are even if you don’t own Telstra shares directly, your superannuation fund does. But with its share price skyrocketing over the past year, is Telstra past its prime? Click here for our brand-new report: Buy, Sell, or Hold Telstra?

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The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better.  Click here now  for your free subscription to Take Stock, 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.  This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson. Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Woolworths and Telstra.

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