Following a weaker lead from US markets, Australian investors seemed tentative today, with the local bourse tracking sideways for most of the session and closing practically flat or just 0.08 per cent higher. Telcos pulled the index down with some significant losses of close to 7 per cent in Telstra (ASX:TLS) following TPG Telecom’s (ASX:TPM) announcement that it would build its own mobile network. REITs were the star performers this session, followed by gains in Consumer Staples and Utilities.
The ASX200 finished the day 5 points higher to 5,934.
The value of trades was $6 billion on volume of 929 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP).
On the futures market the SPI is 4 points up.
The Nikkei is 1.28 per cent lower, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is 0.08 per cent lower and the Shanghai Composite is 0.38 per cent lower.
Building activity in Australia remained steady in December according to latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Total building work done rose 1.3 per cent to almost $27 billion in the December quarter seasonally adjusted. This followed a fall of 3.7 per cent in the September 2016 quarter.
Sandfire Resources Limited (ASX:SFR) says it will explore Great Western Exploration’s northern Yerrida tenements through a farm-in agreement. Under the agreement Sandfire may initially earn 70 per cent by delineating at least 50,000 tonnes of in-ground copper. The consideration for the farm-in is $500,000 worth of Sandfire shares. Shares in Sandfire Resources closed 1.85 per cent down at $6.37.
Flight Centre Travel Group (ASX:FLT) has purchased a 24.1% stake in Bibam, an Argentina-based travel and technology group.
TPG Telecom (ASX:TPM) has announced it will build its own mobile network, and is set to become Australia’s fourth mobile network operator.
Infrastructure investment company, Infratil (ASX:IFT), has confirmed the sale of its 19.91% stake in New Zealand retirement village provider, Metlifecare Ltd (ASX:MEQ).
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was REITs adding 1.53 per cent to close at 1,440. The worst performing sector was Telcos, losing 7 per cent to close at 1,490 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Saracen Minerals (ASX:SAR), rising 5.34 per cent to close at $1.08. Shares in Australian Agriculture (ASX:AAC) and Regis Resources (ASX:RRL) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Telstra (ASX:TLS), dropping 7.46 per cent to close at $4.22. Shares in Vocus Group (ASX:VOC) and Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) also closed lower.
URB Investments Limited (ASX:URB) started trading today. The investment entity floated with an issue price of $1.10, opened at $1.10 and closed at $1.12.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,275 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.32 higher at $US53.80 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7494.