Market Wrap: Aus shares lose steam

Market Reports

The Christmas spirit has deserted the stock market today as shares shed most of yesterday’s gains. The market lost 1.12 per cent with one trading day remaining in the week. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 61 points lower to finish at 5,381. 
 
The value of trades was $3.6 billion on volume of 538 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC).
 
On the futures market the SPI is 71 points down.
 
Company news
 
Beacon Lighting Group Limited (ASXBLX) is going from strength to strength today announcing that it expects first half profits of up to $14.6 million. The company produced a full year profit of $20.1 million in 2014 which was a 21 per cent rise on the previous year. The strong performance is the result of increasing trade sales and a substantial increase in store comparative sales. Beacon Lighting Group Limited (ASXBLX) closed 16.67 per cent up at $1.40. 
 
Insurance Australia Group Limited (ASX:IAG) says final claim costs from the New Zealand earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 are expected to increase by between $NZ750 million and $NZ1 billion. The blowout is due to increased rebuilding costs and a series of adverse court judgements impacting the insurance industry. IAG says final claims should settle within its NZ$4 billion reinsurance limited and reaffirmed full year margin guidance of 13.5 – 15.5 per cent. Shares in IAG closed 1.1 per cent down at $6.28. 
 
Sundance Energy Australia Limited (ASX:SEA) dipped despite reassuring the market it’s activities are expected to remain fully funded into 2015 notwithstanding the current oil price.  
 
Pilbara focused iron ore miner Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) has welcomed Western Australian State Government's 50 per cent rebate on iron ore royalties. 
 
Treasury Wine Estates Limited (ASX:TWE) says legal proceedings brought against the wine producer by Melbourne City Investments have been thrown out of court. 
 
And Xero Limited (ASX:XRO) says 2014 has been a successful year as it disclosed that it has extended the repayment dates on loans enabling two key executives to purchase shares in the company.
  
Best and worst performers

All sectors were down across the board today, the sector with the least losses was consumer discretionary slipping 0.5 per cent to close at 1,740. The worst performing sector was materials, losing 2.8 per cent to close at 8,563 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Ten Network, rising 4.76 per cent to close at $0.22. Shares in Retail Food Group and REA Group also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Sundance Energy, dropping 13.59 per cent to close at $0.45. Shares in Transfield Services and Arrium also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,180 an ounce. Light crude is $1.87 down at $US55.26 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 81.19 US cents.