5 things you need to know about the Australian sharemarket today

S&P/ASX 200 drops 1.1% as oil rout continues

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Welcome to Thursday. Here are the five things I’m looking at today on the Australian sharemarket.

  1. The S&P/ ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has dropped 1.1% at the open, after a horror night in the US.Wall Street was slammed, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 both sliding 1.2%, while the NASDAQ was only slightly better off, falling 1.1%.

    Again it was falling oil prices dragging on the market. Brent Oil dropped US$2.77 to US$64 per barrel.

  2. As the oil price slumps, so too do the ASX-listed oil and gas producers. Santos Ltd’s (ASX: STO) shares opened down 6.6%, while BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) is back under $29, after losing 2.4%.There appears no end in sight for the falling oil price, and we may have to get used to a price that starts with a 4 or 5.
  3. Travellers are set to benefit from the falling oil price, with airlines tipped to slash airfares from next year. But the optimism might be overdone. Many airlines hedge their exposure to their fuel bill – it’s one of their largest expenses – and exposure to fuel priced in US dollars means most airlines around the world, take out hedging to protect them from higher oil prices.Unfortunately, it also means they are locked in to higher prices when oil falls. As an example, Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) has a fuel bill of over $4 billion, but will only see a benefit of around $30 million in the six months to December 2014, despite oil prices dropping by 40%.
  4. Tweet of the Day

    Motley Fool wins Glassdoor Employee’s Award for best place to work, beating 125,000 companies in the US with less than 1,000 employees. No-brainer really – we love what we do, helping people around the world invest.better.

  5. Stock of the Day – brought to you by Tim McArthur – MMA Offshore Ltd (ASX: MRM). Shares in the marine logistics and supply base services have dropped by 65% since June 2013. Tim outlines why he thinks not might be the time to have a closer look.

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

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