The Australian share market has closed 0.3 per cent down, losing steam to be pulled down by financial stocks after a disappointing and unexpected downfall in May’s consumer sentiment reading.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 15 points down to finish at 5,165. The value of trades was $5.5 billion on volume of 1.2 billion shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Seven West Media Limited (ASX:SWM), and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC)
On the futures market the SPI is 24 points down.
The Westpac-Melbourne Institute index of consumer sentiment has fallen 7 per cent to 97.6 in May, its lowest level in 10 months. The second consecutive monthly fall comes in response to the federal budget, with the Reserve Bank’s recent record rate cut failing to spur sentiment as was largely expected.
Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU) expects its full year earnings to fall on the back of lower prices for its mineral sands. Managing Director David Robb told the company’s AGM that based on lower weighted average prices and lower sales than could be expected to flow from more usual market conditions, earnings are expected to be materially lower than in 2012. Shares in Iluka closed 5.74 per cent up at $11.79.
Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) shares weakened today after the gold miner suffered a significant blow , with a NSW court voiding an exploration license covering 70 per cent of its wholly owned exploration area in NSW. The court decision falls in favour of junior explorer Gold and Copper Resources, a former potential joint venture partner that has accused Newcrest of confidentiality breaches and falsified information in its application. A spokesperson for Newcrest said only one of Gold and Copper's four claims was established in the judgement, insisting that overall, the ruling was positive for Newcrest, adding that GCR was not able to establish its claim of false and misleading conduct in the renewal. Shares in Newcrest closed 4.68 weaker at $14.87.
Myer Holdings Limited (ASX:MYR) posted a 0.5 per cent gain in third-quarter sales however remains cautious on the retail trading outlook. The retailer has now posted four consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth.
OZ Minerals Limited (ASX:OZL) plans to begin a $2.6 million field program to explore for copper gold deposits at Mount Woods.
Stockland (ASX:SGP) has raised $400 million via a fully underwritten institutional placement it says was over-subscribed with support from both domestic and offshore investors.
Seven West Media Limited (ASX:SWM) took a slide today, falling almost 8 per cent after private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts offloaded its 12 per cent, $260 million stake in the company.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Materials adding 97 points to close at 9,601.
The worst performing sector was Real estate investment trusts, losing 25 points to close at 1,111.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB), rising 9.45 per cent to close at $6.02. Shares in Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU) and Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL), dropping 16.67 per cent to close at $0.07. Shares in Boart Longyear Limited (ASX:BLY) and St. Barbara Limited (ASX:SBM) also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,377 an ounce. Light crude is $0.44 down at $US95.74 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.977.