THE SHARE MARKET GROUND IN LATE TRADE... AS INVESTORS SELL DOWN STOCKS AHEAD OF EARNINGS RESULTS FROM BANKING, MINING AND RETAIL GIANTS. THE ASX 200 GAVE BACK A QUARTER OF A PER CENT ... LOOKING ACROSS THE REGION... THE NIKKEI IS AN OUTLIER... THAT'S GONE INTO RETREAT OFF ALMOST TWO PER CENT. COMMODITIES TRADE HAS BEEN MOSTLY BOUYANT TODAY... AND TO THE DOLLAR AND ITS ALSO GONE INTO RETREAT IN AFTERNOON TRADE.. ITS NOW SITTING AROUND 103 US CENTS.

PETROL PRICES ARE SET TO CONTINUE TO RISE AND PUT MORE PRESSURE ON HOUSEHOLD BUDGETS. FIGURES FROM THE AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF PETROLEUM SHOW THE AVERAGE PETROL PRICE ROSE TWO-POINT-TWO CENTS TO JUST OVER 146 CENTS A LITRE IN THE PAST WEEK. THAT'S AS THE THE SINGAPORE GASOLINE PRICE ROSE 3.9 PER CENT TO A TEN-MONTH HIGH

DATA FROM COMMSEC SHOWS PETROL IS THE BIGGEST WEEKLY PURCHASE FOR FAMILIES... AND THESE PRICE INCREASES ADD AN EXTRA 10 DOLLARS A MONTH.

INSURANCE AUSTRALIA GROUP HAS PROVIDED AN UPDATE ON THE CLAIMS RELATING TO EX-TROPICAL CYCLONE OSWALD IN QUEENSLAND AND NEW SOUTH WALES, AS WELL AS THE RECENT BUSHFIRES IN NEW SOUTH WALES, TASMANIA AND VICTORIA. THE COMPANY, WHICH OWNS N-R-M-A, C-G-U AND S-G-I-O INSURANCE, SAYS THE COST OF THE CYCLONE-RELATED CLAIMS WILL BE IN THE RANGE OF 120 TO 140 MILLION DOLLARS. THE BUSHFIRE RELATED CLAIMS ARE EXPECTED TO COST THE GROUP ABOUT 35-MILLION DOLLARS.

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