The Australian share closed lower today. At the open the ASX200 fell, falling further throughout the day until it managed to claw back some early losses in the afternoon. However, we erased some of yesterday’s gains and finished 0.4 per cent lower.
Miners were the biggest weight today after the iron ore price slipped, leading most sectors of the market lower. Banks also trended lower as the banking royal commission hearings stared. Plus a swag of companies went ex-dividend too, and that took its toll as well.
Going the other way Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) fell almost 3 per cent, with Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) following, almost 2 per cent lower. BHP (ASX:BHP) didn’t fall as bad though down 0.8 per cent. But, lithium players shone today with Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) and Orocobre (ASX:ORE) gaining.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 21 points lower, or 0.4 per cent lower to finish at 5,975. On the futures market the SPI is 20 points lower.
The value of trades was $6.7 billion on volume of 798 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP),
Local economic news
Home loans fell more than expected for the month of January. Investment property loans however rose, recovering from the previous month’s fall. Meanwhile, business confidence slipped in February according to NAB’s business confidence survey. Although confidence fell, the reading was in line with market consensus.
Investment management company, Pinnacle Investment Management has snapped up a majority stake in oil and gas company, AWE (ASX:AWE) taking its holding in the company to 6.29 per cent. It comes AWE announced that Japanese company, Mitsui, which is planning to take it over, has increased its major holding in the firm as well. Mitsui's takeover offer for $0.95 per share closes on 23 March 2018 with AWE's independent experts saying Mitsui’s offer is ‘fair and reasonable’. AWE shares closed 0.5 per cent lower to $0.95.
Rail freight operator Aurizon (ASX:AZJ) has provided a response to the Queensland Competition Authority’s (QCA) draft ruling which reduced what Aurizon can charge to users of the Central Queensland Coal Network. Aurizon says under the proposed changes the network would earn the lowest regulated return for any major infrastructure asset in Australia.
Gentrack Group (ASX:GTK) the software company for airports and utility companies is set to enter New Zealand’s top 50 index, the S&P/NZX50. The company says it’s a huge milestone especially as the company listed in June 2014.
And Earth moving equipment company Emeco (ASX:EHL) has responded to an article in today’s Australian Financial Review (AFR) saying it has not solicited or received any proposals regarding the sale of the company, despite the AFR saying the mining equipment company is considering the sale of the business.
Best and worst performers of the day
The best performing sector was staples adding 0.3 per cent to close at 10,263. The worst performing sector was miners, shedding 1.1 per cent to close at 11,229 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX:GXY), rising 3.6 per cent to close at $3.20. Shares in The A2 Milk Company (ASX:A2M) and Gwa Group (ASX:GWA) followed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Australian Agricultural Company (ASX:AAC), dropping 4.2 per cent to close at $1.16. Shares in Resolute Mining (ASX:RSG) and APN Outdoor Group (ASX:APO) followed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei has added 0.4 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.3 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has shed 0.2 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,320 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.58 lower at $US61.34 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 78.72 US cents.
Bitcoin has fallen 2 per cent to US$9,418, Ethereum has shed 2 per cent to US$711 and Litecoin has lost about 4 per cent to US$180 and Tether holds around US$1.00