It has been a solid day of trade for the Australian share market. After opening in the black the local bourse suffered a bumpy morning ride, teetering close to the open mark just after lunch. The markets did manage to regain upward momentum in the early afternoon, holding steady to the close of trade.
As for the sectors, materials continued its strong performance all day, with the likes of Fortescue (ASX:FMG), Sims Metal Management (ASX:SGM) and metals miners Independence Group NL (ASX:IPH) and Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR) all posting gains.
Utilities and health care sectors pulled back today, finishing lower.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index was 9 points up, or 0.15 per cent higher at 6,070.
The value of trades was $3.5 billion on volume of 472 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO).
On the futures market the SPI is 3 points up.
Pacific Star Network Limited (ASX:PNW) has entered into a trading halt this afternoon, pending the release of news of a proposed merger transaction and placement. In late November, the broadcasting and publishing business announced Crocmedia, a leading sports media content business, was undertaking due diligence in relation to a proposed merger. Today’s announcement rom Pacific Star has not named the proposed merger party. Shares in Pacific Star Network Limited (ASX:PNW) were 18.52 per cent higher at $0.32 prior to the trading halt.
Auckland Airport (ASX:AIA) has announced it has completed the strategic review of its 24.55 per cent stake in North Queensland Airport. The airport owner is evaluating whether to continue to hold its stake, or sell to an existing shareholder or third party. Auckland Airport has not decided which outcome it will definitively pursue, however its preference remains to sell what it considers a non-strategic asset. It has indicated it has strong buyer interest, and will update the market on or before its FY18 interim results are released in February. Shares in Auckland Airport (ASX:AIA) closed 0.5 per cent higher at $6.00.
Dulux Group’s (ASX:DLX) 51 per cent joint venture company DGL Camel International has entered into an agreement to sell most of its coatings portfolio in Hong Kong and mainland China to Yip’s Chemical Holdings, following a strategic review of the DGL Camel portfolio.
Insurance Australia Group (IAG) (ASX:IAG) has finalised its catastrophe reinsurance program for the 2018 calendar year, setting this year’s cover for losses to up to $8 billion.
Technology company NEXTDC (ASX:NXT) is recommending that security holders in the Asia Pacific Data Centre Trust (APDC) vote in favour to wind up the trust at a meeting scheduled for 31 January 2018.
Best and worst performers of the day
The best performing sector was Materials adding 1.31 per cent to close at 11,782.
The worst performing sector was Utilities, shedding 0.53 per cent to close at 8,242. points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR), rising 3.7 per cent to close at $7.30. Shares in Western Areas Limited (ASX:WSA) and Independence Group (ASX:IGO) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was CYB PLC (ASX:CYB) dropping 2.41 per cent to close at $5.68. Shares in Bega Cheese Limited (ASX:BGA) and Southern Cross Media (ASX:SXL) also closed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.08 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.33 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lifted 0.91 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,314 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.05 down at $US60.37 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 78.15 US cents.
Bitcoin has gained 13.87 per cent in the last 24 hours to $15,333
Ethereum added about 1.82 per cent to $885
And Litecoin has risen about 4.41 per cent to $255