Market Wrap: Aus shares close 0.34% lower

Market Reports

The local share market couldn’t keep its head above the water, despite a strong lead from Wall Street and a bounce at the open. It seems throughout the day investors just lost interest with the index closing the last trading day of the week 0.34 per cent lower.

Today it was the big four banks that proved to be the biggest drag on the market with CBA losing more than 1 per cent. BHP made a small bounce back today on the back of news that it was going to write down $7 billion worth of assets in the US. 
 
Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 17 points lower to finish at 4,893. 
Over the week the index lost 98 points. 
 
The value of trades was $4.2 billion on volume of 691 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 ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ).
 
On the futures market the SPI is 34 points lower.

US Markets
 
Looking at Wall Street, US major indexes were mixed over the four trading days this week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average has added 0.2 per cent. The S&P 500 Index was flat. The NASDAQ has lost 0.6 per cent. The 100 Index has added 0.05 per cent. 
 
Economic news

Refinancing levels in Australia have risen according to latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. For the month of November there was a 3.5 per cent increase in refinancing which was attributed to several of the major banks raising mortgage rates in October. 
 
Company news

PSC Insurance Group Limited (ASX:PSC) has entered into conditional agreements to acquire the Australian Reliance corporate insurance broking business and Reliance Partners insurance adviser franchise network. PSC will pay an unadjusted purchase price of $31.57 million, which includes a payment for the loan book. Shares in PSC Insurance Group closed 3.23 per cent higher at $1.60. 
 
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) says they expect to write down around $7 billion dollars post-tax on the value of its onshore US assets. 
 
Asciano Limited (ASX:AIO) has advised that Nitro Corporation, has extended the offer period for its takeover bid of Asciano until Friday, the 29th of January.
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Materials adding 0.6 per cent to close at 6,220. The worst performing sector was Consumer Discretionaries, losing 1 per cent to close at 1,852 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was LNG, rising 15.32 per cent to close at $0.64. Shares in Monadelphous and Sandfire also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Austal, dropping 7.17 per cent to close at $1.03. Shares in Seven West and Ten Network also closed lower. 
 
IPOs

Recce Limited (ASX:RCE) started trading today. The pharmaceutical research and development company listed with an issue price of $0.20, opened at $0.31 and closed at $0.30. 
 
Commodities and the dollar

The price of gold is trading at $US1,081 an ounce, and is down $16.67 over the week.
Light crude is $0.72 higher at $US32.11 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $0.6946.