Market Wrap: Aus shares flat ahead of Fed outcome

Market Reports

The Australian share market closed slightly lower after a largely flat trading day, with investors content to cool their heels ahead of the outcome of the US Federal Reserve’s latest call on stimulus overnight. Among the major sectors, real estate investment trusts led the gains while the Industrial and Consumer staples sectors both fell over 1 per cent.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 7 points down to finish at 5,096. The value of trades was $4.6 billion on volume of 772 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO).
 
On the futures market the SPI is 5 points down.
 
Economic news

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index of Economic Activity slipped to 1.11 per cent in November, down from 1.24 per cent in October. The growth rate in the leading index has been above trend for the last 12 months, Westpac found.
 
Company news  
 
Bega Cheese Limited (ASX:BGA) informed shareholders this that it will not extend its offer for the highly prized target that is Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co. (ASX:WCB) once it closes on Friday evening. The first to topple in the three way global joust for WCB, Bega says it will consider its options regarding its strategic holding in the target once the offer closes. Shares in Bega closed 1.61 per cent up at $4.42. 
 
Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX:WPL) has revealed the cost of its controversial Browse onshore gas project would have come in excess of $80 billion, almost double what was touted in early estimates. Vice-president of corporate affairs Roger Martin said that after shelving the project, which had an initial $45 billion price tag, Woodside realised it would have spent almost the entire value of the company on an uneconomic project. Shares in Woodside closed flat at $37.30. 
 
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) has announced David Gonski will replace John Morschel as chairman of the bank in 2014.
 
Wotif.com Holdings Limited (ASX:WTF) shares fell 31.82 per cent after it flagged a lower first-half profit, in the range of $21.9 million to $22.6 million, warning the outlook for the second half of fiscal 2014 remains volatile.
 
Ten Network Holdings Limited (ASX:TEN) chairman Lachlan Murdoch is backing the relatively new chief executive to manage his dual roles of heading Ten while being a non-executive chairman at REA Group, following calls for him to resign from the real estate company.
 
UGL Limited (ASX:UGL) shares fell 2.34 despite inking a five-year contract to provide maintenance services to Chevron Australia, which also includes extension options beyond the initial term.
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Real estate investment trusts adding 10 points to close at 971.
The worst performing sector was Industrials, losing 43 points to close at 3,777.
 
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Decmil Group Limited (ASX:DCG), rising 5.26 per cent to close at $2.10. Shares in Goodman Fielder Limited (ASX:GFF) and Mirvac Group (ASX:MGR) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Wotif.com Holdings Limited (ASX:WTF), dropping 31.82 per cent to close at $2.85. Shares in Amcor Limited (ASX:AMC) and St. Barbara Limited (ASX:SBM) also closed lower. 
 
IPOs

Orora Limited (ASX:ORA) started trading today. The packaging manufacturer floated with an issue price of $1.40, opened at $1.16 and a closed at $1.22.
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,233 an ounce. Light crude is $0.26 down at $US97.22 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8902.