Lithium companies shine: ASX closes flat on Friday, down on week

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

It has been a mostly positive day of trade for the Australian share market. After opening on a high note following record Wall Street leads, lithium companies largely beat the best performing drum for the day, but in afternoon trade, selling in property funds and staples held us back and we closed flat, just over two points up on the day.

Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) greased up the most gains after the oil price is holding around a 52 week high while the energy giant also unveiled a new gas field discovery. Meantime, Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) rose 1.7 per cent, but it was lithium plays that saw the most gains in the materials space with Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) up 6.5 per cent, while Orocobre (ASX:ORE) and Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) gained over 3 per cent, while South32 (ASX:S32) rose 4 per cent.

Going the other way, salmon farmer Tassal (ASX:TGR) fell 1.9 per cent while Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX:CCL) bubbled a fall of over 1.3 per cent. Virgin Australia (ASX:VAH) saw a bit of selling too, falling 3.7 per cent, just a day after Etihad bought almost 21 per cent in the airliner, while Qantas (ASX:QAN) soared about 2.9 per cent.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.04 per cent higher or about 3 points up on Friday to 6,070. Looking at the bigger picture, at the beginning of the week we were up around 10-year highs, but over the week the ASX200 lost 52 points or 0.9 per cent. 

The value of trades was $4.5 billion on volume of 630 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) and Transurban (ASX:TCL).

On the futures market the SPI is 7 points up.

Company news 

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) is not selling UDC Finance to HNA after the agreement was terminated. It comes after New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office declined HNA's application to buy the entity. Shares in ANZ closed 0.7 per cent lower at $28.52.

Qantas (ASX:QAN) advised foreign ownership of its shares has fallen to about 44 per cent [43.6 per cent] from about 47 per cent [47.62 per cent] from the beginning of December to December close.

Kirkland Lake Gold (ASX:KLA) reported record full year production at all operating mines and record Q4 2017 production at three of its mines. The group beat its full 2017 year production guidance and it improved its balance sheet growth with cash rising to $230 million.

And waste management company, Bingo Industries (ASX:BIN) is facing a fine from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after its Minto recycling plant allegedly breached its licensed processing limits.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was Materials, closing 1.35 per cent higher at 11,987
The worst performing sector was Reits shedding 0.81 per cent to 1,365.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Beach Energy (ASX:BPT), rising 6.9 per cent to $1.40 Shares in Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) and South32 Limited (ASX:S32) also closed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Incitec Pivot (ASX:IPL), losing 4.15 per cent to $3.70. Shares in Automotive Holdings Group (ASX:AHG) and Abacus Property Group (ASX:ABP) also closed lower.

Asian markets 

Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.5 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.3 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.1 per cent.

Wall Street

Wall Street wrapped up the four trading days this week higher: The Dow Jones added 1.1 per cent, The S&P 500 added 0.9 per cent and the tech heavy Nasdaq gained 1 per cent, while the 100 index added 0.8 per cent

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,329 an ounce.
Light crude is holding at US$63.45 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 78.86 US cents


Bitcoin is 4.5 per cent higher at $13,835
Ethereum is over 1.3 per cent higher to $1,216.
And Litecoin is 1.6 per cent higher to $234

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