Market Wrap: Aus shares close 0.04% down

Market Reports

The Australian share market closed 0.04% per cent down on the back of weak activity in Asian markets and some mixed economic news at home. 

The Data
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 2.10 points to finish at 5,188. 
 
The value of trades was $3.0 billion on volume of 518 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were ANZ Limited (ASX:ANZ), BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) and Westpac (ASX:WBC).
 
On the futures market the SPI is 4 points lower.
 
Economic News 
 
The number of job ads both in print and online has fallen again this month, but at a slower rate.  Jobs ads were down 0.3% in January, following a 0.8% fall in December. Year-on-year, jobs ads are down 8.9% from last January, which again beats the previous January result, which saw ads fall by 16.7%. 
 
Inflation news was also positive with December’s surprise jump of 0.7% followed by a 0.1% increase in January, according to the TD Securities – Melbourne Institute Inflation Gauge. Annual inflation fell to 2.5% with costs for education, transport and utilities higher while prices for clothing, holiday travel and books all fell.
 
The trends were opposite in the building sector with building approvals falling 2.9% in December. Analysts had been expecting a decrease of only 0.3%. The soft final month was the third consecutive decrease and limited the otherwise positive yearly result to an increase of 21.8%. 
 
Company News 
 
Country Road Limited (ASX:CTY) has generated a solid first half net profit of $38 million, up more than 70 per cent on the same period a year ago. The company says the retail landscape is likely to remain highly competitive in the second half of the financial year. Despite the positive result, Shares in Country Road remained steady at $4.83.
 
CuDeco Limited (ASX:CDU) shares have jumped on news the company now owns 100 per cent of a rail load facility in Queensland. CuDeco became the sole owner of the asset after Glencore Xstrata and MMG withdrew from the joint venture. Shares in CuDeco climbed 2.74% today to close at $1.50.
 
JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX:JBH) investors are cheering a bumper first half profit of $90.3 million, up 10 per cent in the same period a year ago. The retailer says total sales lifted by close to 7 per cent to $1.94 billion. Shares in JB Hi-Fi closed up 3.06 per cent.
 
Meantime - Equity Trustees Limited (ASX:EQT) is expecting to generate a first half net profit after tax of $5.4 million, up more than 20 per cent on the same period a year ago. Shares in Equity Trustees closed 0.05% higher.
 
Argo Investments’ Limited (ASX:ARG) first half profit lifted by over 18 per cent to $102 million. Shares in Argo closed down 0.14%.
 
Best and Worst Performers
 
The best performing sector was Energy adding 102 points to close at 13,221.The worst performing sector was Financials excluding real estate, losing 15 points to close at 6,641.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Ten Network Holdings, rising 4.23 per cent to close at $0.37, followed by PBG and SGH.
 
The worst performing stock was RSG, dropping 6.42 per cent to close at $0.51. Shares in FGE and HZN also closed lower. 
 
Commodities 
 
Gold is buying $US1,246 an ounce. Light crude is $0.74 down at $US97.49 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8751.