Flatline finish: Aus shares close 0.08 per cent lower

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

It has been a flat finish for the Australian share market today, which closed flat or just 0.08 per cent down. Over the week we gained 0.6 per cent, but we are still about 1.3 per cent off our highs set on January 9 2018.

From the outset, we had negative leads to follow as the US dollar fell to a three-year low, causing our Australian dollar to gain and Wall Street closed mainly in the red.

But throughout the day we managed to recoup early losses with materials gaining steam, shaking off yesterday’s sell off after the iron ore price and other commodities hit fresh highs. Meantime, lithium players also recovered from oversupply fears.  

In afternoon trade the discretionary space started to shine with the likes of Kogan.com (ASX:KGN) gaining 3 per cent, while Domino’s Pizza (ASX:DMP), Jb Hi-Fi (ASX:JBH) and Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) all gained over 1 per cent ahead of Australia Day.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.08 per cent or 5 points to 6,050. Over the four trading days we gained 35 points or 0.6 per cent.

The value of trades was $5.9 billion on volume of 651 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP),

On the futures market the SPI is 7 points lower.

Local economic news

Liquor and beverage companies might be in for a shock this Australia day, as according to fresh ABS data today, Australian’s are drinking less alcohol than they have in five years. But when we do drink, we are also less likely to drink beer than ever before.

Company news now

Multibillion dollar lithium producer, Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) is ramping up its production, has finalised its sales agreement with Chinese car manufacturer Great Wall Motor company and its agreement with Atlas Iron (ASX:AGO). But these were just some of the things the company noted when releasing its December quarter report today. Also in the quarter it committed extra capital to support long term growth, investing $274 million in its Pilgangoora stage one project in WA. Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) shares gained over 80 per cent over the last 12 months and today their shares closed 0.5 per cent lower at $1.01.

Online retailer and insurance provider Kogan.com (ASX:KGN) will jump into the life insurance market after signing an agreement with Greenstone Financial Services, lauching its offering this half year.

IMF Bentham (ASX:IMF) has drawn a line in the sand in funding a potential shareholder class action against Woolworths (ASX:WOW).

Software logistics company, Getswift (ASX:GSW) is refuting the AFR’s claims that it allegedly lost materially significant contracts and denies that it failed to report material information. It comes as Getswift responded to the ASX’s query noting that no contracts were formally terminated and that it has no reason to believe CBA will not use its GSW platform.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was materials adding 0.5 per cent to close at 11,797.
The worst performing sector was utilities, shedding 1.3 per cent to close at 7,863. points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Resolute Mining (ASX:RSG), rising 5.8 per cent to close at $1.19. Shares in Asaleo Care (ASX:AHY) and Saracen Mineral Holdings Limited (ASX:SAR) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Syrah Resources Limited (ASX:SYR), dropping 5.5 per cent to close at $4.11. Shares in Retail Food Group (ASX:RFG) and Ausnet Services (ASX:AST) followed lower.

Asian markets 

Japan’s Nikkei has lost 1.1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.3 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.1 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,363 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.41 higher at $US65.88 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 80.95 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading mostly higher.

Bitcoin has gained 8 per cent to $11,613
Ethereum has added about 12 per cent to $1,090
And Tether has slipped marginally to $1.00