Bumpy ride: Aus shares close 0.22% lower

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

It has been a wild day of trade today with the ASX opening lower, after US markets absorbed an expected rate rise (of a quarter of a per cent). But a bolstered economic outlook and rate-hike forecasts for next year sent US and the ASX into sell down mode.

By noon the ASX managed to claw back early losses, after miners and energy stocks gained over 1 per cent, with the iron ore price lifting, while the crude oil price rose to a near one-year high, the $65 level.

The other sectors traded and closed below the line with telcos, utilities, industrial and property making the biggest falls and dragging the market lower in afternoon trade. The big four banks all closed lower with CBA (ASX:CBA) falling the most on the 8th day of the royal banking commission.

Mining giants, BHP (ASX:BHP) and Rio (ASX:RIO) jumped over 2 per cent with BHP rising the most. Energy players like Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) and Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) rose over 2 per cent.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 13 points lower, or 0.22 per cent lower to finish at 5,937.

Futures

The Dow futures are suggesting a gain of 22 points up.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 9 point fall.

Value of trades 

$5.6 billion on volume of 790 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and Aurizon Holdings (ASX:AZJ).

Economic news

The employment participation rate increased to 65.7 per cent, the highest it has been since December 2010. It was also better than the market expected. The female labour force participation also increased, to a new historical high of 60.6 per cent.

Company news 

Sigma Healthcare Limited (ASX:SIG), was one of the biggest weights on the market today it reported weaker underlying profits, revenue and earnings for the full year to January. However, it’s reported net profit after tax rose 3.5 per cent to $55.4 million. Its shares closed 7.4 per cent lower at $0.82.

LSV Asset Management, snapped up a lot of shares in copper-gold producer, Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR), becoming a major shareholder in the firm today, which took its holding to 5.1 per cent. Sandfire shares closed 0.8 per cent lower at $7.91

IAG (ASX:IAG) is seeking to raise a minimum of $300 million of subordinated notes, for Tier 2 Capital, under the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s (APRA) capital adequacy framework. It’s planning the raise the funds with a new subordinated debt issue to wholesale investors.

AWE’s (ASX:AWE) takeover company, Mitsui & Co has increased its stake in the company to 16.16 per cent. Shareholders are currently considering a $602 million offer from the Japanese company. Meantime, production licences in the northern Perth Basin in Western Australia have entered the next phase, which involves working with registered native parties.

TV video platform company, Big Un (ASX:BIG) appointed a new chairman, Nicholas Jordon with immediate effect. He previously worked as co-CEO of Goldman Sachs, Russia and Confederation of Independent States (CIS). Nicholas Jordon is an investment banker by trade.

Perth-based Australis Oil & Gas (ASX:ATS) has received commitments from investors to raise $39 million via placements.

IPOs

Lowell Resources Fund (ASX:LRT) started trading today. The unit trust invests in shares and other financial products issued by resources companies listed on Australia and overseas stock exchanges. It floated with an issue price of $8.32, opened at $8.35 and its trading at $8.35.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was material adding 1.4 per cent to close at 11,467. The worst performing sector was telcos, shedding 1.7 per cent to close at 1,189. points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Alumina (ASX:AWC), rising 4.7 per cent to close at $2.46. Shares in Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) and Orocobre (ASX:ORE) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Sigma Healthcare (ASX:SIG), dropping 7.4 per cent to close at $0.82. Shares in Webjet (ASX:WEB) and Fairfax Media (ASX:FXJ) followed lower.

Asian markets 

Japan’s Nikkei has added 0.6 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.6 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.8 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,330 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.95 up at $US65.49 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.46 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin has lost half of per cent to US$9,064, Ethereum fallen about 2 per cent to US$573 and EOS has gained about 16 per cent to US$7.20