The Australian share market finished at session lows, closing 0.6 per cent down following a steady afternoon descent on the back of subdued business confidence indicators from NAB. Losses in the energy sector were the most significant market draggers.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 29 points down to finish at 5,118. The value of trades was $4.1 billion on volume of 740 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
, BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
On the futures market the SPI is 38 points down.
The National Australia Bank’s monthly business survey has shown a two point drop in business confidence in February, to an index reading of one. Despite the fall, the above zero reading indicates business confidence is in moderately positive territory.
Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC)
has received federal government planning approval for the expansion of its Tarrawonga mine in New South Wales, subject to a series of conditions. Managing Director Tony Haggarty says the coal miner welcomes the approval and is committed to working within the stringent conditions placed on the project. Shares in Whitehaven Coal closed 5.53 per cent down at $2.39.
Corporate Travel Management Limited (ASX:CTD)
has appointed its former Chief Operating Officer into the newly created role of CEO Australia and New Zealand. Managing Director Jamie Pherous says Laura Ruffles brings expertise to the new role after playing an integral role in the investment holding company’s growth strategy during 3 years in her former role. Shares in Corporate Travel Management closed 1.11 per cent down at $4.45.
Gold miner Ramelius Resources Limited (ASX:RMS)
has commenced mining at its Western Queen South project in Western Australia.
Fuel cell developer Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited (ASX:CFU)
is the beneficiary of a state subsidy policy in the German state of North Rhine-Westfalia, subsidising purchases of its BlueGEN technology by between 45 and 65 per cent.
Global consumer products company Breville Group Limited (ASX:BRG)
will purchase and manufacture Clean and Green compostable juicer bags designed by Cardia Bioplastics Limited (ASX:CNN)
in the USA.
Australian drug company Pharmaxis Limited (ASX:PXS)
has appointed current CFO Gary Phillips as its new boss, following the resignation of founding CEO Dr Alan Robertson after 13 years in the top job.
Best and worst performers
Real estate investment trusts was the only major sector to finish higher, adding 0.4 points to close at 1,042.
The worst performing sector was Energy, losing 236 points to close at 13,467.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX:SRX)
, rising 3.02 per cent to close at $11.58. Shares in Pacific Brands Limited (ASX:PBG)
and Southern Cross Media Group Limited (ASX:SXL)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR)
, dropping 6.38 per cent to close at $0.88. Shares in Saracen Mineral Holdings Limited (ASX:SAR)
and Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC)
also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,582 an ounce. Light crude is $0.15 down at $US91.91 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.028.