It has been a mixed session for the Australian share market. After opening in the black the market traded within a 45 point range, higher in the morning session before losing steam to close lower.
The local bourse shook off soft leads from Wall Street, but it was a dip in the iron ore price that saw our big miners slip into selling territory, with BHP (ASX:BHP), Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO), Fortescue (ASX:FMG) and South32 (ASX:S32) closing lower.
In a reversal of yesterday's action REITs were one of the best perfroming sectors. Consumer Staples and Disctretionary stocks also did well, while Financials and Health Care lost the most ground.
Woolworths (ASX:WOW) continued its recent run of good form up 2.29% or 58c to $25.88 on the back of it's first quarter sales results for the 2018 financial year. Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX:CCL) also perfomed well up 1.88% or 15c to close at $8.15.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 10 points down, or 0.17% per cent lower to finish at 5,909. The value of trades was $5.1 billion on volume of 742 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP). On the futures market the SPI is 12 points down.
Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.10 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.18 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.10 per cent.
Intellectual property law firm, IPH (ASX:IPH) has completed the purchase of another IP firm, AJ Park. It made the settlement by issuing about $21.5 million of new shares, escrowed over two years. The company also made a cash payment of about $31.7 million to the sellers. A final cash payment will be made to the seller following debt and capital adjustments. IPH shares closed up 1.56 per cent higher at $5.85.
Respiratory nasal company Rhinomed announced a wholesale distribution agreement with UK Phoenix Healthcare Distribution Limited for all 4 variants of its Mute range of snoring devices. Phonex Healthcare is a leading global pharma wholesaler and this deal is expected to add significantly to its existing 650 UK based pharmacies footprint. Shares in Rhinomed (ASX:RNO) closed 2.78 per cent higher at $0.19
Woolworths (ASX:WOW) has announced its first quarter sales results for the 2018 financial year, with a 3.7 per cent increase in sales from the previous period, after opening five new stores so far. Australian food sales was the driver of growth, with a 4.7 per cent increase for the quarter to $9.6 billion, and BWS drove drink sales up 3.8 per cent to $2 billion this quarter. Average prices declined by 2.4 per cent due to material price reductions in fruit and vegetables compared to the same quarter last year. Online sales grew in both Australia and New Zealand, with the rollout of Pick up at all Woolworths and Countown supermarkets. Voice of Customer scores increased 83 per cent compared to the same quarter in the prior year, and overall customer satisfaction for both online and offline stores is up 79 per cent.
Energy business Infigen (ASX:IFN) has reported a 14 per cent increase in production generated and a 16 per cent increase in production sold in the September quarter compared to the prior corresponding period. Its revenue is up 16 per cent to 72.7 million this quarter compared to the same time last year. Infigen is looking to diversify and expand its customer base and grow its portfolio.
Australian robotic technology company Fastbrick Robotics (ASX:FBR) has highlighted in its September quarter results the collaboration with Caterpillar and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Housing for its Hadrian X robot program. Caterpillar is looking to invest US$2 million in the company, and the robotics company will potentially build 50,000 new homes in Saudi Arabia using the Hadrian X robots it is building. During the quarter the company progressed the procurement activity of the Hadrian X construction, with orders for medium lead-time items placed. Many of the components for the robots have been manufactured and are ready to be assembled, after rigorous testing has been completed.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Staples adding 0.92 per cent to close at 9,769. The worst performing sector was HealthCare, losing 0.63 per cent to close at 23,932 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Orocobre Limited (ASX:ORE), rising 4.76 per cent to close at $4.84. Shares in TPG Telecom Limited (ASX:TPM) and Monadelphous Group (ASX:MND) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited (ASX:BEN), dropping 4.77 per cent to close at $3.79. Shares in Western Areas Limited (ASX:WSA) and Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,277 an ounce. Light crude is $0.22 up at $US54.12 barrel. One Australian dollar is buying 76.81 US cents.