Market Wrap: Aus shares stage mild recovery

Market Reports

The Australian sharemarket has staged a moderate recovery after a negative open in the wake of lower global markets to end 0.21 per cent lower for the day. Investors headed to the property trust sector to snap up some bargains whilst energy stock plunged again on soft oil prices. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 11 points down to finish at 5,354. 
 
The value of trades was a modest $3.77 billion on volume of 657 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 4 points down.

Economic news

The AiG performances of services index (PSI) has shown a rise of 3.7 points to 47.5 in December. That’s still below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction with long term weakness since the GFC continuing. 
 

 
Company news

National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) will scout out a new chief for its UK subsidiary Clydesdale Bank after current CEO David Thorburn announced his intention to step down. The bank bought Clydesdale Bank in 1987 and has been recently looking to accelerate its exit from its UK banking business. After four years in the role Mr Thorburn says it was the right decision to step aside and let new leadership steer the decoupling process. NAB thanked Mr Thorburn for his valuable contribution and says a succession process is well underway. Shares in National Australia Bank are 0.24 per cent higher at $33.42.
 
Junior gold miner Ramelius Resources Limited (ASX:RMS) enjoyed bumper trade after reporting record quarterly output results. The gold miner says it exceeded gold production guidance by 13 per cent in the December quarter and cash and gold on hand lifted 49 per cent in the second half of the year. Ramelius says the results were achieved on the back of record production from its Mt Magnet operation in Western Australia.  Shares in Ramelius advanced 26.23 per cent to $0.08.
 
Benitec Biopharma Limited (ASX:BLT) says clinical trials for its potential óne shot’ cure for Hepatitis C are advancing well with a third patient dosed.
 
Ensogo Limited (ASX:E88) responded to an ASX price query acknowledging  it is involved in discussions with a number of potential strategic investors. 
 
Cape Lambert Resources Limited (ASX:CFE) says it has instituted a range of cost reduction measures expected to generate savings of about $3.5 million per annum. 
 
And Desane Group Holdings Limited (ASX:DGH) says it has sold 26 of the 29 apartments it is developing in the inner Sydney suburb of Rozelle for a total of $23.6 million. 
 
Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was real estate investment trusts adding 1.3 per cent to close at 1,213. The worst performing sector was energy, losing 1.5 per cent to close at 10,940 points.
 
Bargain hunters took to the market with the best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 Arrium, rising 15.91 per cent to close at $0.26. Shares in BC Iron and Evolution Mining also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Beach Energy, dropping 6.7 per cent to close at $0.97. Shares in AWE and Liquefied Natural Gas also closed lower. 
 
IPO's

Appen Limited (APX) started trading today. The linguistic services company floated with an issue price of $0.50, opened at $0.50 and is currently trading at $0.525.    
 

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,213 an ounce. Light crude is $2.11 down at $US47.93 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 80.78 US cents.