Market Wrap: Aus shares edge down 0.2%

Market Reports

The Australian share market has closed 0.2 per cent lower today, with mixed performances from blue chip stocks and losses among the major miners putting the ASX on the back foot. The market followed Wall Street lower this morning as fiscal cliff concerns continue to weigh on investors.

The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 10 points to finish at 4,447. The value of trades was $3.2 billion on volume of 700 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia  (ASX:CBA), Rio Tinto Limited  (ASX:RIO) and BHP Billiton Limited  (ASX:BHP).

On the futures market, the SPI is currently 22 points lower.

Economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported a rise in total construction work done in Australia in the September quarter. Construction work rose 1.7 per cent in the September quarter, a figure below expectations. The volume of construction work done over the year was up by 6 per cent.

Company news

Jetset Travelworld Limited (ASX:JET) expects a flat first-half profit amid soft retail prices in Australia's leisure market, with transaction levels expected to be 10 per cent below where they were during the corresponding period last financial year. Chairman Tom Dery says the group's travel management business, QBT, had encountered reductions in total transactions as government agencies reign in travel spending. Mr Dery believes this will be partly offset by a nine per cent cost reduction following a redundancy program the travel service provider announced in June. Shares in Jetset closed 1.23 per cent down at $0.40.

Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX:ALL) has more than doubled net profit in its shortened financial year, reaping $45.5 million in the nine months to the end of September, compared to $19.9 million in the corresponding period last year. The gaming company says profit growth has been driven by efficiency improving measures and expects the strong performance to continue in the year ahead. CEO Jamie Odell says major game releases across all key markets, cost discipline and efficiency improvements will drive lifts in operational performance despite sustained headwinds. Shares in Aristocrat Leisure closed as today’s best performer, rising by 6.64 per cent to close at $3.05.

Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX:LEI) engineering subsidiary Thiess has been granted two new contracts worth about $220 million.

Retailer JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX:JBH) has announced the launch of its “HOME” concept stores that will offer a range of whitegoods, cooking and small appliances.

Nucoal Resources Limited (ASX:NCR) shares spiked more than 22 per cent today after the coal explorer was given the green light by shareholders to raise up to an additional 25 per cent in equity.

ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) has formed a partnership with Swiss private bank Vontobel Group which it says compliments its strategy to entrench itself in the Asia Pacific region.

Best and worst performers 

The best performing sector was Telco services adding 14 points to close at 1,479.
The worst performing sector was Materials, losing 106 points to close at 9,946.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX:ALL) following its half year profit lift. Shares in Ten Network Holdings Limited (ASX:TEN) and Mesoblast limited (ASX:MSB) also finished the day trading higher.

The worst performing stock was NRW Holdings Limited (ASX:NWH), dropping 17.78 per cent to close at $1.48. Shares in Intrepid Mines Limited (ASX:IAU) and Decmil Group Limited (ASX:DCG) were also lower at market close. 


Gold is trading at $US1,740 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.01 up at $US87.19 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.045.

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