Stock market
Screens display the share price for Trupanion following the company's IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 18, 2014. Shares of Trupanion Inc. rose as much as 15 percent in their market debut, reflecting strong demand among U.S. pet owners to insure their cats and dogs against the high cost of veterinary care. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)

Market loses some recent gains

 The Australian sharemarket has followed US and European markets into negative territory today - putting an end to a two-session rally. The All Ords (XAO) has closed near the day's lows, losing 0.7 percent to 5,399. While the ASX 200 (XJO) fell 0.8 percent to 5,422.

 While all sectors lost ground, it was the mining and oil stocks that suffered the most in response to further falls in commodity prices. The Energy sector dropped 2.5 percent, with Woodside Petroleum (WPL) retreating 1.9 percent to $36.35, while the materials sector slumped 1.5 percent with BHP Billiton off 2.2 percent to $28.51.

 Gold stocks enjoyed strong gains as a flight to safety saw the precious metal rise in Asian trade. Newcrest Mining (NCM) climbed 2.5 percent to $12.48, while Northern Star (NST) jumped 1.2 percent to $1.72.

 Fairfax Media (FXJ) shares ended the day up 1.1 percent to 88cents. The media company today announced it will pay $72 million to buy the remaining 50 per cent of Victoria's Metro Media Publishing. Fairfax had held 50 percent of Metro Media and will buy the remainder of the company through $53.5 million in Fairfax shares and $18.5 million in cash. Metro Media owns 15 real estate and lifestyle-focused magazines and newspapers in Victoria.

 In economic news, home loan approvals took a surprising drop in November. The number of owner-occupier home fell by 0.7 per cent in November, when economists had been expecting a rise of 1.7 percent. The value of all loans fell by 1.0 per cent.

 Data was also released today showing the strength of the labour market. Job advertisements rose for a seventh straight month in December - climbing 1.8 percent.  And According to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, petrol prices in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide hit 6-year lows last week.

 The Australian dollar has strengthened against the greenback, boosted by the better than expected loan approvals data. It's trading at 82.45 US cents.

 Volume was very light today with only 119.3m shares traded worth $2.9bn.

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