ASX’s $25 billion wipeout

The S&P / ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has lost 1.6% to close at 4,924.4, with around $25 billion wiped off the market.  Every sector ended in the red, except for Consumer Staples, with the Gold index down 6.7%, Materials losing 4.6% and Metals & Mining sliding 5%.

The falling gold price appears to have given other commodities its disease, with copper, zinc and nickel all falling. According to Bloomberg, 10 of the 24 commodities tracked in an S&P index are in a bear market, commonly defined as a 20% drop in price.

The Australian dollar is flat against the US dollar, fetching 103.0 cents.

These three stocks were the only positive performers in the top 20.

Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) added 0.9% to end at $11.66, as investors dumped higher-risk stocks and looked for those that are more likely to show consistent earnings growth in future. Westfield certainly fits that picture, recently expanding into Brazil for the first time. With a population of close to 200 million, it’s not hard to envisage a slew of Westfield malls across the country in the future.

Wesfarmers Limited (ASX: WES) rose 0.8% to close at $42.22, after the company announced that retail sales had risen 6% in the three months to March to $12.2 billion. Coles continues to drive retail sales, although most divisions, including Bunnings, Kmart and Officeworks saw revenues rise at a healthy clip. Trading on a P/E ratio of 21, it appears that future growth may already be baked in.

Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX: WBC) only just managed to post a positive return, adding a measly 3 cents to close at $31.85, although it still managed to hit an all-time high of $32.07 during the day. As investors continue to search for ‘safe’, high dividend-paying stocks that are well known, the major banks have proven popular.

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 doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.

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