The Australian share market has been characterised by uncertainty this session, fluctuating in and out of negative territory throughout the day. The market charged 0.4 per cent higher just after lunch, then quickly fell back to level in the last hour of trade. At the end of the day the local bourse closed 0.13 per cent lower. The materials space was hit the hardest today after the price of iron ore dropped overnight. We also saw losses in the telcos, with Vocus Communications the biggest casualty.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 7 points down to finish at 5,458.
The value of trades was $5.8 billion on volume of 856 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP).
On the futures market the SPI is 10 points down.
Middle east based contractor HLG in which CIMIC Group (ASX:CIM) has a 45 per cent interest has been awarded a contract valued at $215 million for the development of twin 25 storey residential towers. The project will be one of the largest urban developments in Qatar, construction of which is expected to commence in February. Shares in CIMIC Group closed 2.04 per cent lower to $31.27.
Vocus Communications Ltd (ASX:VOC) says $105 million in below the line expenses will appear on its next balance sheet – the costs of the Nextgen acquisition and M2 merger, totalling $17 million.
One of Australia’s leading insurance companies, Suncorp (ASX:SUN) and nib (ASX:NHF) have expanded their partnership to launch a new range of private health insurance products in Australia.
Metals X (ASX:MLX) have spun-off of the company’s gold assets into a new entity called Westgold, for investors who want a pure gold play.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was REITS adding 0.9 per cent to close at 1,312. The worst performing sector was Telcos, losing 1.5 per cent to close at 1,773 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Pact Group, rising 5.52 per cent to close at $6.50. Shares in ISentia and Primary Health Care also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Vocus Communications, dropping 24.48 per cent to close at $4.35. Shares in TPG Telecom and Syrah Resources also closed lower.
Commodities and the dollar
To commodities, Gold is trading at $US1,191 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.84 higher at $US46.90 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US74.76.