The markets fell throughout the day, and started to pick up towards the end of the session, but closed 0.3 per cent lower by the end of trade.
Myer (ASX:MYR) lifted from yesterday’s losses, after announcing leadership changes today, with the retailer’s CEO and Managing Director stepping down from his role. However, both consumer staples and consumer discretionary fell into the red. Shares in Domino’s (ASX:DMP) dropped after reporting its weakest first-half profit growth in ten years. Healthcare was the best performing sector, followed by information technology and then utilities. Global biotech company CSL (ASX:CSL) lifted on the back of announcing better profit and revenue numbers for the half year. The energy sector finished flat at the closing bell despite being in the red for most of the day. All other sectors finished in the red. Shares in Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) dropped 3 per cent after going ex-dividend today.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 15 points lower, or 0.3 per cent lower to finish at 5,841.
The value of trades was $5.5 billion on volume of 738 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), CSL (ASX:CSL) and BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP).
On the futures market the SPI is 8 points up.
Local economic news
Consumer sentiment in Australia declined 2.3 percent from the previous month to 102.7 in February 2018. It was the first decline in three months, amid recent volatility in global financial markets and a modest fall in commodity prices.
Investment manager Diversified United Investment (ASX:DUI) has reported a 1.7 per cent decline in operating revenue to $19.2 million and a 4.4 per cent drop in profit to $15.6 million for the half year to December 2017 compared to the prior corresponding period. The results are a reflection of no special dividends being paid for this period, compared to $1.74 million paid in the previous year. Excluding special dividends, however, revenue increased 7.9 per cent and profit after tax rose 7 per cent. The company’s interim dividend is 6.5 cents per share fully franked, payable on 14 March 2018. Shares in Diversified United Investment (ASX:DUI) closed flat at $4.06.
Investment company QV Equities (ASX:QVE) has reported an 11 per cent increase in operating profit after tax to $4.5 million in the half year to December 2017, compared to $4.1 million in the previous half year. NTA rose 3.9 per cent pre-tax for the half year. The company is paying a fully franked interim dividend of 2.1 cents per share payable on 4 April 2017. Shares in QV Equities (ASX:QVE) closed flat at $1.20.
Oil and gas giant Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) reported its net profit rose 18 per cent in the full 2017 year to US$1 billion, largely driven by higher prices and lower production costs.
Mining giant BHP (ASX:BHP) has announced it is expecting to be hit by a US$1.8 billion income tax expense.
Global biotech company CSL (ASX:CSL) has reported it net profit after tax (NPAT) attributable to members rose about 35 per cent to US$1.1 billion in the half year ending 31 December 2017.
Accelerate Resources Limited (ASX:AX8) started trading today. The Australian cobalt copper and gold exploration company floated with an issue price of $0.20, opened at $0.21 and closed at $0.195.
Best and worst performing sectors
The best performing sector was Healthcare adding 2.86 per cent to close at 25,362.
The worst performing sector was Telcos, shedding 1.38 per cent to close at 1,234 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was CSL (ASX:CSL), rising 5.08 per cent to close at $149.29. Shares in Computershare (ASX:CPU) and Aveo Group (ASX:AOG) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Fletcher Building (ASX:FBU), dropping 7.13 per cent to close at $6.64. Shares in Domino’s Pizza (ASX:DMP) and Challenger (ASX:CGF) also closed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.3 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.9 per cent and the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.3 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,335 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.27 lower at $US58.81 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 78.79 US cents.
Bitcoin has gained 1.4 per cent in the last 24 hours to $8,822.
Tether is flat at $1.00.
Ethereum has gained around 2 per cent to $867.