Market Wrap: ASX drops into March, awaits US jobs

Market Reports

After jumping over February the Australian share market has dropped into the first week of March and pulled back from almost reaching the 6,000 level. Sentiment was sapped after the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep rates on hold and following weaker than expected national growth figures. 
 
Losses in the mining sector weighed today but the benchmark closed off its lows ahead of America’s monthly jobs report. The US economy is tipped to have added about 240,000 jobs in February after creating 257,000 the month before. The unemployment rate has been predicted to fall to 5.6 per cent after rising to 5.7 per cent the month before. 
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 5 points today and dropped 30 points over the week to finish at 5,899. 
 
The value of trades was $4.5 billion on volume of 732 million shares at the close of trade. 
 
The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 8 points lower. 
 
Wall Street
 
America’s major indexes have put in a mixed trading performance over the trading week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average has added 0.02 per cent. The S&P 500 Index has dipped 0.2 per cent. The NASDAQ has rose 0.4 per cent. The 100 Index has gained 0.3 per cent. 
 
Economic news
 
Australia’s construction activity has remained in contraction territory for the fourth consecutive month. The Australian Industry Group and Housing Industry Association's Performance of Construction Index dropped 2 points to 43.9 in February. The 50 point level separates expansion from contraction.
 
Company news 
 
S&P Dow Jones Indices has today announced its rebalance of the S&P/ASX Indices for the March quarter, due to come into effect in two weeks.  
 
The six stocks joining the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index include beef producer Australian Agricultural Company Limited (ASX:AAC), travel management company Corporate Travel Management Limited (ASX:CTD) and electrical retailer Dick Smith Holdings Limited (ASX:DSH). Also joining the benchmark index are residential aged care provider's Estia Health Limited (ASX:EHE) and Regis Healthcare Limited (ASX:REG) and mining company Syrah Resources Limited (ASX:SYR). Shares in all new additions rose today led by Regis Healthcare, rising 4.48 per cent to close at $5.60.
 
The six stocks departing the benchmark index in two weeks are all from the mining and energy sectors. Slipping out of the top 200 stocks include iron ore miner’s Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO), BC Iron Limited (ASX:BCI) and Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX). Also leaving the benchmark are gold producer Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR), oil exploration company Horizon Oil Limited (ASX:HZN) and rare earths producer Lynas Corporation Limited (ASX:LYC). Shares in Lynas Corporation sank 3.7 per cent today to end the week at $0.05. 
 
Global education services provider Navitas Limited (ASX:NVT) has lifted student enrolments by 9 per cent in the first semester of this year for its northern hemisphere University Programs colleges. 
 
Resource and investment company Cape Lambert Resources Limited (ASX:CFE) has swung from a profit to a first half loss of $11.9 million over a period in which it cut costs to tackle the falling price of iron ore. 
 
Best and worst performers
 
The best performing sector was health care, adding 1.1 per cent to close at 19,440. 
The worst performing sector was materials, losing 1.1 per cent to close at 9,548 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Monadelphous Group Limited (ASX:MND), rising 4.11 per cent to close at $9.89. Shares in ResMed Inc (ASX:RMD) and Lend Lease Group (ASX:LLC) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Shares in Regis Resources Limited (ASX:RRL), plunging 26.7 per cent to at $1.40 after warning its annual output will come in at lower end of its guidance range. Shares in Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR) and Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) also closed lower. 
 
Commodities 
 
The price of gold is buying $US1,199.65 an ounce, down $9.45 over the week. 
Light crude is $0.77 lower at $US50.76 a barrel. 
 
Currencies
 
The Australian dollar is buying $0.7808. 

 
That is the Market Wrap on Friday 6th of March. I’m Lelde Smits and thank you for joining me on the Finance News Network.