Thursday wrap: ASX plummets below 5,300 points

Market Reports

by David Chau

The Australian share market experienced a massive sell-off today as it continued to plummet deeper into the sea of red. Just before the trading day finished, it sunk below the 5,300 points mark.  At the end of the day, the local bourse lost over $40 billion, finishing 1.19% lower. This is a five-week low.

Out of the big four banks, NAB was the only one which posted a gain in its share price.

Ardent Leisure performed surprisingly well today, and was today’s top performing share. Despite the fatal tragedy at its Dreamworld theme park earlier this week, Ardent Leisure’s CEO, Deborah Thomas, is set to receive a performance bonus of up to $840,000.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 64 points down to finish at 5,296.

The value of trades was $6.5 billion on volume of 903 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB), ANZ Bank (ASX:ANZ) and Wesfarmers (ASX:WES).

On the futures market the SPI is down 79 points.

Economic news

The ABS has released the latest import and export price data for the September quarter. Australian export prices rose 3.5% in the third quarter of this year, which was higher than what was forecast by economists. As for import prices, they fell 1% slightly more than expected.

Through the year to September, export prices fell 5.4% and import prices dropped 5.1%.

Company news

Blackmores (ASX:BKL) has suffered a steep fall in its first quarter profit – dropping 46.6% to $12 million. This fall in profit was caused by the company’s weaker sales in Australia. Although its China business had a 220% rise in sales to $31 million. Earlier in the day, Blackmores’ share price sunk below the $100 mark and was in negative territory for most of the day. But not long before the share market closed, its shares surprisingly managed to post a gain, finishing 1.29% higher at $105.74.

National Australia Bank's (ASX:NAB) full year statutory net profit fell 94% to $352 million - due to losses sustained by its UK banking business, CYBG, and NAB Wealth life insurance division.

Challenger Ltd (ASX:CGF) has entered new deals with AMP and the Mitsui Sumitomo Primary Life Insurance Company – whereby both those companies will offer Challenger’s annuity products.

Ainsworth Game Technology Ltd (ASX:AGI) has announced a pre-tax profit of $15 million in the first half of FY17. This is around 57% lower than its pre-tax profit in the same period last year. But the company is expecting its second half results to show significant improvement.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector (or the one with the least losses) was Utilities, which lost 0.16 per cent to close at 7,025. The worst performing sector was Staples, losing 2.12 per cent to close at 8,734 points.

As mentioned earlier, the best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Ardent Leisure, rising 7.5 per cent to close at $2.15. Shares in Challenger and OZ Minerals also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was APN News & Media, dropping 11.59 per cent to close at $2.76. Shares in Resolute Mining and Syrah Resources also closed lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,268 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.73 down at $US49.23 per barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7634.