Market Wrap: ASX gives up gains to end flat

Market Reports


The Australian share market gave up early gains to close virtually flat in late afternoon trade. Profit takers sold off the banks while the miners and materials company enjoyed investor favour. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 3 points higher to finish at 5,242. 
 
The value of trades was $5.4 billion on volume of 793 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 16 points down.
 
Economic News

Retail sales rose by 0.4 per cent in September with café and restaurant spending providing most of the gains. Seasonally adjusted, retail sales were up by 0.6 per cent for the September quarter, the fifth straight quarter of gains. 
 
Company news

Echo Entertainment Limited (ASX:ECH) has reported a 34 per cent drop in revenue from high rollers blaming the slide on an abnormally low win rate for the house. However profit was up thanks to broad based growth across the company. Shares in Echo Entertainment slipped 6.25 per cent to $4.80.   
 
NIB Holdings Limited (ASX:NHF) says better-than-expected performance in Q1 trading will lift profit by around ten per cent for the first three months of its reporting period. However, the health insurer says investment income will be lower thanks to a reduced capital base and M&A activity. Shares in NIB last traded 3.37 per cent stronger at $3.68.
 
Scentre Group (ASX:SCG) says speciality store sales grew by nearly six per cent in the first nine months of the year with footwear, leisure and jewellery performing well. 
 
Stockland (ASX:SGP) says it will undergo a $377 million redevelopment of the Green Hills shopping centre in the New South Wales Lower Hunter region. 
 
Kingsgate Consolidated Limited (ASX:KCN) says it’s received an open offer for the Challenger Gold Mine and related assets from Marmota Energy Limited.
 
And Goodman Group (ASX:GMG) says its on track to achieve $3 billion in assets under management.
 
Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was materials, adding 0.9 per cent to close at 8,033. The worst performing sector was telcos, losing 1.2 per cent to close at 1,935 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Dick Smith, rising 8.61 per cent higher to close at $0.82. Shares in Alumina and Southern Cross also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was the aforementioned Echo Entertainment. Shares in James Hardie Industries and Santos also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,122 an ounce. Light crude is $1.76 up at $US47.90 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 72.07 US cents.