Following weak leads the Australian share market sank at open and slumped 1.3 per cent by close. Heavy losses in the banking and mining sector weighed on the benchmark with all sectors ending in the red. BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
finished as the worst performer, booking its largest daily stock drop since 2008. On the economic front the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed new car sales dropped 1.5 per cent last month but are still higher over the year.
The S&P/ASX 200 index plunged 76 points to close at 5,659.
The value of trades was $5 billion on volume of 742 million shares at the close of trade.
The top three stocks by value were South32 Limited (ASX:S32)
, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
On the futures market the SPI is 87 points lower.
BHP Billiton Limited’s (ASX:BHP)
spin-off South32 Limited (ASX:S32)
started trading at midday today with a market capitalisation of more than $11 billion. Australia’s newest miner holds assets across Australia, Brazil, Columbia, South Africa and Mozambique. South32 will also trade on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. Shares in South32 slipped 3.9 per cent to close their first day of trade at $2.05.
Shares in Pharmaxis Limited (ASX:PXS)
spiked after scoring a sales deal worth up to $750 million with a global pharmaceutical firm, Boehringer Ingelheim. CEO Gary Phillips says this is a transformational event for Pharmaxis, a globally competitive deal and a significant deal for the Australian biotech sector. Shares in Pharmaxis soared 51.52 per cent to close at $0.25.
Paint maker DuluxGroup Limited (ASX:DLX)
has posted a 17.5 per cent first half profit fall due to restructuring costs but affirmed it remains on track to achieve an improved annual result.
Agribusiness Elders Limited (ASX:ELD)
has swung to an interim net profit of $15.9 million after booking a loss last year and flagged opportunities for growth locally and across Asia.
Building fixtures and fittings supplier GWA Group Limited (ASX:GWA)
has tied up the $33 million sale of its Wetherill Park property in Sydney to Charter Hall Core Plus Industrial Fund.
Marketing technology provider Rewardle Holdings Limited (ASX:RXH)
has teamed up with low-cost airline AirAsia to make flight rewards available at local businesses around Australia.
Best and worst performers
All sector finished in the red: The sector with the fewest losses was telco services, easing 0.4 per cent to close at 2,189.
The worst performing sector was financials excluding REITs, losing 2.1 per cent to close at 7,413 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Drillsearch Energy Limited (ASX:DLS)
, rising 3.11 per cent to close at $1.16. Shares in Evolution Mining Limited (ASX:EVN)
and Greencross Limited (ASX:GXL)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
, dropping 7.26 per cent to close at $30.13. Shares in Paladin Energy Limited (ASX:PDN)
and Cover-More Group Limited (ASX:CVO)
also closed lower.
IQ3CORP Limited (ASX:IQ3)
started trading today. The corporate finance and advisory firm specialising in the life science sector floated with an issue price of $0.30, opened at $0.35 and closed at $0.50.
Gold is buying $US1,230 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.30 lower at $US60.54 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8025.