Market Wrap: Aus shares close flat

Market Reports

The Australian share market closed the day flat, having slightly recovered from early losses but still feeling the effect of the energy and materials sectors remaining in the red.

The S&P/ASX200 Index eased 11 points to close at 4,743, while for the week it was down 80 points. On the futures market, the SPI is down by 9 points.

On Wall Street, the DOW Jones Industrial Average was down 226 points over the week. The S&P 500 Index was down 29 points, NASDAQ was down 59 points and the 100 Index was down 29 points.

In company news, QR National (ASX:QRN) has reduced its forecast tonnages today, citing weakness in coal volumes as the reason. The privatised rail freighter says it expects to lose a further 10 million tonnes of coal haulage for the remainder of fiscal 2011, and that in recent weeks, it had hauled about one million tonnes a week below expectations. The company will seek shareholder approval of the revised executive plans at its next AGM. Shares in QR National ended the week up 0.88 per cent, to close at $3.44.

National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB), is the next of our big four to announce a growth in their Asian currency trading team. The bank’s business markets managing director, Tim Keith, told Dow Jones wires that the expansion will be rolled out over the coming 12 months. The bank says it will not let go of its ownership of Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks for the meantime.
Shares in NAB ended the week up 2.85 per cent, to close at $27.78.

RIO Tinto (ASX:RIO) shareholders lodged a protest vote against the miner's remuneration report for the second straight year, in the wake of advisory firms raising strong concerns over the board's decision to boost chief Tom Albanese's salary by 31 per cent. Meanwhile, Albanese today also dismissed market rumours that Rio was preparing a takeover bid for aluminium giant Alcoa.

Equinox Minerals (ASX:EQN) has revealed its failed offer for Canada’s Lundin Mining cost shareholders $64.1 million. This afternoon’s Australian reports that Equinox, who will soon be acquired by Barrick Gold, have detailed an after-tax loss of $21.4million, primarily due to charges for the withdrawal of the Lundin offer.

The best performing sector was Health Care, advancing by 91 points to close at 8,817. The worst performing sector was Materials, easing 199 points to close at 13,594.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was Hastie Group shares gained 6.98 per cent to close at $0.23. Shares in Macmahon and Vigin Blue ended the week stronger. The worst performing stock was Mincorp, dropping 4.7 per cent to close at $1.11.5. Shares in OceanaGold Corporation and Resolute also closed in the red today.

In commodities, gold is trading at $US1,487 an ounce and is down by $75.65 on the week. Light crude is up 9 cents at $US99.89 a barrel. The Australian dollar is trading at $1.07, down by two and a half cents on the week.

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