4 Top 20 ASX stocks on the nose today

The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) closed down 0.6% today, and much of it was driven by several of our large caps stocks suffering big falls.

Here’s our view on four of the top 20 biggest falls…

Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) continues to be buffeted from pillar to post, falling 3.8% today to $8.40. Just yesterday, the oil and gas producer says it had postponed an issue of €500 million hybrid securities and slashed its capex bill, as oil falls below US$70 a barrel. The energy company is in the final stages of completing its Gladstone LNG project, and UBS anaylsts estimate Santos will have US$8.2 billion of debt by the end of next year.

Iron ore miner Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) fell 3.5% to $57.14, despite iron ore prices rising 3% to US$71.25 per tonne overnight. While Rio has been touted as one of the lowest cost iron ore producers on the planet, falling commodity prices will still have an impact on the miner’s earnings. And CEO Sam Walsh has ruled out any major mergers or acquisitions, when speaking to investors in London. Rio is under a takeover cloud, with Glencore expected to lob a second bid for the miner next year.

Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) fell 2% to $35.71. Unlike other oil and gas producers, Woodside’s shares have only dropped 10% in the past month – Santos shares are down 30%, as the chart below shows. Interestingly, Australia’s largest independent oil and gas producer now sports a fully franked dividend yield of 6.5%. Grossed up, that equates to 9.3% dividend yield – putting term deposit rates of 3% to shame.

4 ASX stocks on the nose Dec 2014

Source: Google Finance

CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) the blood plasma company saw its shares drop 1.7% to $85.97. Shares in CSL recently hit a 12-month high, as the company pushes for approval of a new haemophilia drug, which could deliver hundreds of million in sales. A product launch could take place in late 2015 or early 2016 according to the company’s chief scientist Andrew Cuthbertson. Today’s fall may just be some investors taking some profits given CSL’s strong run this year.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Santos and CSL. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

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