Market Wrap: ASX closes 0.5% lower

Market Reports

The Australian share market spent the afternoon in a steady descent to close half a per cent lower, despite ANZ’s fifth consecutive record full year profit result sending its shares to unprecendented highs. Local investors remain pensive though, awaiting further hints on the direction of US tapering measures from the Federal Reserve over the next 48 hours. Meanwhile The Aussie dollar dropped to the lowest level in nearly a fortnight after Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said it may be ‘‘materially lower’’ in the future.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 26 points down to finish at 5,416. The value of trades was $4.5 billion on volume of 725 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 25 points down.
 
Company news  
 
Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co. (ASX:WCB) and Bega Cheese Limited (ASX:BGA) claim they are unaware of any reason why shares in the two groups spiked in morning trade, despite an ongoing takeover battle. WCB and Bega both say they are unaware of any reason for the unusual share trading, and that they are in compliance with continuous disclosure obligations. Shares in WCB closed 5.26 per cent up at $8.80. 
 
Engineering and property services company UGL Limited (ASX:UGL) has declined to provide earnings forecasts for the year ahead, citing the severe ongoing impact of the downturn in the resources sector. Managing Director Richard Leupen says although revenues in UGL’s engineering division remain at similar levels to last year, the outlook for both resources and engineering divisions continue to look difficult. Shares in UGL closed 2.40 per cent down at $7.72. 
 
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) shares hit an all time high in early trade, with investors cheering its bumper full year cash profit of $6.49 billion.
 
Suncorp Group Limited (ASX:SUN) says it has received about 400 claims from bushfire victims, estimated to cost between $60 and $70 million.
 
Beach Energy Limited (ASX:BPT) has increased its stake in oil and gas producer Cooper Energy Limited (ASX:COE) from 9.5 per cent to 18.41 per cent.
 
NIB Holdings Limited (ASX:NHF) may have to explain its plans to take advantage of the growing demand in Australia for overseas medical treatment to the government, with health Minister Peter Dutton saying he is keen to learn more about the insurer's plans..
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Telco services adding 6 points to close at 1,785.
The worst performing sector was Energy, losing 199 points to close at 13,894.
 
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Navitas Limited (ASX:NVT), rising 3.51 per cent to close at $5.90. Shares in Metcash Limited (ASX:MTS) and Decmil Group Limited (ASX:DCG) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Perseus Mining Limited (ASX:PRU), dropping 16.54 per cent to close at $0.53. Shares in SAI Global Limited (ASX:SAI) and Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC) also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,356 an ounce. Light crude is $0.83 up at $US98.68 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9510. 

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