The Australian share market closed down 0.59 per cent today. A weak lead from overseas markets and slowing consumer prices failed to fire the market. The Aussie dollar took a run after the latest inflation data signaled there may not be a strong enough case for the RBA to lower rates at its May meeting.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 35 points down to finish at 5,838.
The value of trades was $4.8 billion on volume of 714 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
and National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB)
On the futures market the SPI is 52 points lower.
Falling petrol prices have helped keep inflation low with the ABS today reporting that CPI stayed at 0.2 per cent for the March quarter. The annual rate of inflation is now 1.3 per cent, well below the RBA target band of 2 to 3 per cent and increasing chances of a further rate cut in May.
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
boosted iron ore production in the third quarter and lifted annual guidance. The miner increased iron ore output by 20 per cent to 58.9 million tonnes for the three months.lifting output so far this financial year by 17 per cent. Full year guidance of 230 million tonnes was raised from 225 million tonnes earlier. BHP Billiton closed 1.08 per cent down at $30.27.
Independence Group (ASX:IGO)
says net profit for the March quarter was down slightly at $19.8 million compared to $21.6 million in the December quarter. The miner says it’s on track for full year guidance despite a planned processing shutdown at one of its mines. Shares in Independence Group closed 2.58 per cent down at $5.66.
Scentre Group (ASX:SCG)
has raised $1.3 billion of debt funding through an issue in the US.
Ausdrill Limited (ASX:ASL)
has scored a services contract from gold miner Perseus Mining Limited (ASX:PRU)
that should add around $287 million dollars in revenue over 5 years.
PanAust Limited (ASX:PNA)
has delivered a strong March quarter after cutting costs and rejecting a $1.1 billion takeover offer from its major shareholder.
Novogen Limited (ASX:NRT)
says that it’s chemotherapy drug Cantrixil has been granted orphan drug designation by the US Food and Drug administration.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was telco services adding 0.8 per cent to close at 2,214. The worst performing sector was energy, losing 1 per cent to close at 11,460 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Evolution Mining, rising 10.61 per cent to close at $0.99. Shares in Arrium and Northern Star Resources also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was STW Communications, dropping 4.72 per cent to close at $0.60. Shares in AWE and MMA Offshore also closed lower.
Two companies started trading today. 360 Capital Total Return Fund (ASX:TOT)
listed with an issue price of $1.25, opened at $1.35 and closed at $1.35. Eclipx Group Limited (ASX:ECX)
listed with an issue price of $2.30, opened at $2.70 and closed at $2.78.
Gold is trading at $US1,203 an ounce. Light crude is $1.27 down at $US56.61 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 77.66 US cents.