Market Wrap: ASX drifts as AGM season fires up

Market Reports

As annual general meeting season fires up the Australian share market ended almost unchanged after trading in the red for most of the session. Investors took a breather from yesterday’s buoyant start to the week ahead of a US Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday. Most sectors ended lower led by losses among energy and Beach Energy Limited (ASX:BPT) sinking after posting a drop in quarterly revenue. 
 
The big moves of the day came from Vocation Limited (ASX:VET), plunging more than 50 per cent after revealing it will be forced to surrender $19.6 million of funding from the Victorian Government. Shares in Chinese mobile commerce company 99 Wuxian Limited (ASX:NNW) ended more than 18 per cent higher after inking a deal with China UnionPay to develop and launch a point of sale platform. 
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 6 points to close at 5,453.  
 
The value of trades was $4.16 billion on volume of 790 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 1 point higher. 
 
Economic news
 
Australian consumer confidence has risen to a 12-week high. According to ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) and Roy Morgan consumer confidence rose 2.7 per cent to 114.6 over last week, the same week in which the benchmark index posted its biggest weekly gain since February. 
 
Company news
 
Australian Dairy Farms Group (ASX:AHF) has become the first milk producer to list on the ASX and boasts two dairy farms in south-west Victoria. The company says it is eyeing acquisitions after raising $9.3 million through issuing shares at 20 cents per security before the listing. Australian Dairy Farms Group has come to market through a backdoor listing and was previously trading as investment company APA Financial Services Limited (ASX:AHF). Shares in Australian Dairy Farms Group jumped 10 per cent today to close at $0.22. 
 
Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (ASX:VAH) is on the hunt for a new Chairman after Neil Chatfield announced its intention to retire following seven years in the position. Australia’s second largest carrier appointed Mr Chatfield to the board in 2006 and says he will stay on until a suitable replacement is found. Shares in Virgin Australia Holdings closed flat at $0.39. 
 
Gold producer Doray Minerals Limited (ASX:DRM) and gold explorer Mutiny Gold Limited (ASX:MYG) have outlined plans to merge with view to creating a mid-tier, high grade Western Australian gold company with substantial growth prospects.  
 
Annual general meetings 

Mining services company Worleyparsons Limited (ASX:WOR) has flagged steady earnings over the current financial year and vowed to take decisive action to target growth. 
 
Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC) has spruiked an upbeat outlook for coal demand and says it will be one of Australia's largest, low-cost producers of high-quality coal within years. 
 
Bega Cheese Limited (ASX:BGA) has forecast a flat profit and revenue result over the current financial year but highlights what it describes as a very strong balance sheet. 
 
Best and worst performers 
 
The best performing sector was health care, adding 0.9 per cent to close at 15,987.
The worst performing sector was energy, losing 1.6 per cent to close at 13,435 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN), rising 7.33 per cent to close at $1.61. Shares in Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB) and PanAust Limited (ASX:PNA) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR) after releasing its September quarter report. The miner’s shares dropped 14.06 per cent to close at $0.28. Shares in BC Iron Limited (ASX:BCI) and Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) also closed lower. 
 
Commodities
 
Gold is buying $US1,228 an ounce. 
Light crude is $0.01 lower at $US81 a barrel. 
 
Currencies
 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8817.