Market Wrap: ASX drops over day, week & month

Market Reports

The Australian share market has ended the day, week and month in the red. Stocks were buoyed early in today’s session by hopes the US will continue its quantitative easing program. Despite the day’s gains investors retreated by close ahead of key Chinese economic data due for release over the weekend. 
 
The month of May has heeded to the popular saying, "Sell in May and go away" - dragged down by concerns over the future of America’s stimulus program, a slowdown in China’s growth, softening commodity prices and stock market volatility. Over the month of May the S&P/ASX 200 index shed 264 points.

Figures

The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 4 points today extending the weekly decline of 57 points to finish the week at 4,927. 

The value of trades was $8.3 billion on volume of 1.1 billion shares at the close of trade.

The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP).

On the futures market the SPI is 11 points lower.

Wall Street 

US major indexes are up about 17 per cent this year and US stocks have continued to gain over the holiday-shortened week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average has added 30 points, the S&P 500 Index has added 4 points, the Nasdaq had added 32 points and the 100 Index has added 20 points. 
 
Economic news

Credit growth to the private sector has rose in line with expectations in April but remains subdued. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) reports credit growth expanded by 0.3 per cent on the back of strength in housing and business credit. National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) says the figures do not alter the odds for next week’s interest rate decision when NAB expects the RBA will keep rates on hold. 
 
Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) has tipped the RBA will leave the cash rate at a record low of 2.75 per cent next week. Following a 25 basis point cut earlier this month Westpac says rates are likely to stay put for now but fall to 2 per cent by early 2014. 
 
The latest data on Australian home values are expected out early next week. Preliminary figures from property data provider RP Data shows values across the five city aggregate index dropped 1.2 per cent over May with Perth the only city bucking the trend and posting a rise in values. 
 
Company news

Origin Energy Limited’s (ASX:ORG) chief has painted a bleak picture for the future of Australia’s coal industry in the face of growing US coal exports. CEO Grant King was more positive about domestic liquefied natural gas, claiming Australia will probably emerge as the largest LNG producer in the world later this decade. Speaking at a conference in Sydney today Mr King also highlighted green energy policies as the main reason for rising household power bills in Australia. Shares in Origin Energy ended the week steady at $13.47. 
 
Potential takeover target Elders Limited (ASX:ELD) has swung from a profit to a significant first half loss, weighed down by write-downs on two businesses. The debt-laden agribusiness booked a net loss of $303 million while its underlying loss came in at almost $23 million. The result comes one day after rival agribusiness Ruralco Holdings Limited (ASX:RHL) scored the green light from Australia’s competition watchdog to pursue a takeover. Shares in Elders shot up 20 per cent following yesterday’s news but dropped 13.04 today to end the week at $0.10. 
 
Shares in Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL) soared to the best performer as reports emerged it is moving in on a potential partner to develop the $4.7 billion Mbalam Iron Ore Project in West Africa. The miner’s chief operations officer David Meehan told media Sundance will finish talks with potential partners by June and is set to announce its decision by September.

Shares in Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX:LEI) fell almost 5 per cent after the construction giant moved to quash rumours surrounding its Indonesian mining contracts. Leighton confirms its subsidiary Thiess is involved with a dispute but it is not expected to impact the company’s results.
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was utilities adding 79 points to close at 5,471.
The worst performing sector was health care, losing 124 points to close at 12,878 points.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL), rising 9.41 per cent to close at $0.09. Shares in Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST) and Alacer Gold Corp (ASX:AQG) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Coalspur Mines Limited (ASX:CPL), dropping 5.88 per cent to close at $0.24. Shares in Mirabela Nickel Limited(ASX:MBN) and Ausdrill Limited (ASX:ASL) also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,417 an ounce, up $28.00 over the week.
Light crude is $0.09 lower at $US93.52 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying 96.57 US cents, down $0.002 over the week.