The Australian share market slipped into negative territory at the finish, closing 0.2 per cent down after spending the session flirting with the red line as investors remain cautious about the failure of US politicians to dodge a government shutdown. Among the sectors, Industrials eked out some gains, while Energy led the losses. Locally, the Reserve Bank has kept interest rates on hold at 2.5 per cent for the second consecutive month, as improving data boosted hopes that previous cuts were lifting the economy.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 12 points down to finish at 5,207. The value of trades was $3.6 billion on volume of 603 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
, Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
On the futures market the SPI is 19 points down.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics says retail sales lifted in August, beating analysts' expectations. Retail spending rose 0.4 per cent to $21.92 billion in the month. Sales lifted by 0.1 per cent in July.
Activity in Australia's manufacturing sector expanded for the first time since 2011 in September, helped by the lower Australian dollar and lower interest rates, according to the Australian Industry Group. The AIG performance of manufacturing index (PMI) rose 5.3 points to 51.7 in the month.
Capital city home values rose by 1.6 per cent in September to hit a fresh record high, according to the RP Data-Rismark Home Value Index. The index showed strong gains in Sydney and Melbourne, while the median dwelling price across capital cities was $500,000.
Also, new home sales lifted in August due to a rise in detached house sales after a decline in July, according to the HIA New Home Sales report. Total seasonally adjusted new home sales lifted by 3.4 per cent in August, following a fall of 4.7 per cent in July.
Poseidon Nickel Limited (ASX:POS)
has appointed Fortescue non-executive director Herbert Scruggs as its Chairman, to replace major stakeholder and billionaire Andrew Forrest. Mr Forrest, who owns a 30 per cent stake in the nickel explorer, has given Poseidon a further 12 months to repay an $8 million loan, after standing down from his position last week. Shares in Poseidon closed 24.14 per cent down at $0.11.
Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (ASX:VAH)
says passenger numbers increased by 6.5 per cent in its domestic operations in August. The carrier says international operations saw a 10.6 per cent in passenger numbers, driven by increased demand on short haul routes. Shares in Virgin closed 1.16 per cent down at $0.42.
Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX:LEI)
shares firmed after the contractor won a $370 million contract to construct an integrated transport facility and new airline terminal at Melbourne Airport.
Silver Lake Resources Limited (ASX:SLR)
shares fell 2.53 per cent despite the gold miner achieving record quarterly gold sales from its operations in the Eastern Goldfields and Murchison districts of Western Australia.
Elders Limited (ASX:ELD)
shares fell 4.55 per cent after it identified discrepancies in the reporting of livestock values in its live cattle export division, which will require further assessment before any impact on the current financial year results can be determined.
Transurban Group (ASX:TCL)
will move ahead with a €500 million issue, with proceeds set to go toward repaying existing short term debt and meeting forthcoming debt maturities.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Industrials adding 22 points to close at 3,990.
The worst performing sector was Energy, losing 77 points to close at 13,964.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Senex Energy Limited (ASX:SXY)
, rising 4.76 per cent to close at $0.77. Shares in Boart Longyear Limited (ASX:BLY)
and Southern Cross Media Group Limited (ASX:SXL)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Ausdrill Limited (ASX:ASL)
, dropping 6.07 per cent to close at $1.47. Shares in Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX:SRX)
and Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR)
also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,331 an ounce. Light crude is $0.54 down at $US102.33 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9394.