Despite lifting at open the Australian share market declined through the session and closed just slightly below where it started. An initial boost from Wall Street failed to sustain the local bourse following the release of weak trade data from China. The Australian dollar also dropped after Chinese exports and imports were shown to have fallen in March. Local miners bore the brunt of the selling with only a handful of sectors ending higher.
The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 8 points today to close at 5,960.
The value of trades was $3.5 billion on volume of 531 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 1 point lower.
Shares in Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB)
climbed to the benchmark index’s best performer after the stem cell group inked a deal with US based biopharmaceutical company Celgene Corporation. Under the deal Celgene will buy 15 million shares in Mesoblast for around $58.5 million or $3.82 per share. Celgene will also have a six month right of first refusal to certain disease fields. Shares in Mesoblast climbed 24.3 per cent and closed at $3.99.
Shares in M2 Group Limited (ASX:MTU)
jumped after unveiling acquisitions and boosting its fiscal 2016 underlying earnings per share guidance by 15 per cent. The telecommunications group will pay $245 million to purchase New Zealand’s third largest internet service provider called Call Plus Group and a related entity, 2Talk Limited. Shares in M2 Group jumped 10.74 per cent and closed at $11.55.
Investment company Seven Group Holdings (ASX:SVW)
has appointed its Chief Operating Officer Ryan Stokes as its new Managing Director and CEO, replacing Don Voelte who will retire at the end of August.
Iron ore miner Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO)
remains in a trading halt after telling the market on Friday night it will suspend its mining operations and shut down production due to the plunging iron ore price.
Transport group McAleese Limited (ASX:MCS)
entered into a trading halt to consider and review the financial and operational impact of Atlas Iron’s decision.
Western Australian mineral explorer Rumble Resources Limited (ASX:RTR)
has appointed Nathan Tinkler as a corporate advisor who will be remunerated with performance based options.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was telco services, adding 0.8 per cent to close at 2,241.
The worst performing sector was materials, losing 1.4 per cent to close at 9,015 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB)
, climbing 24.3 per cent to close at $3.99. Shares in M2 Group Limited (ASX:MTU)
and Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX:SRX)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Mineral Resources Limited (ASX:MIN)
, dropping 11.05 per cent to close at $6.20. Shares in Southern Cross Media Group Limited (ASX:SXL)
and Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU)
also closed lower.
Gold is buying $US1,205 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.02 higher at $US53.51 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7603.