Market Wrap: ASX falls before Federal Budget day

Market Reports

Strong leads buoyed the Australian share market at open but stocks dropped into the red by close ahead of tomorrow’s Federal Budget day. The softness came after the benchmark index last week retreated more than 3 per cent to post its worst weekly decline since mid 2013. 
 
Today mining and energy stocks performed well but strength was offset by weakness from financials, telcos and consumer staples. On the economic front National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) showed business confidence stayed steady last month while business conditions declined. 
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 9 points lower at 5,625. 
 
The value of trades was $4.8 billion on volume of 685 million shares at the close of trade. 
 
The top three stocks by value were Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS), ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 15 points lower.
 
Company news
 
Future Fibre Technologies Limited (ASX:FFT) enjoyed a positive debut on the Australian Securities Exchange today. The developer and manufacturer of intrusion detection and security systems was also lifted on news it has won a new contract. The $938,000 security deal is to provide work for a LNG facility in Queensland. Future Fibre Technologies floated with an issue price of $0.70, opened at $0.895 and closed at $0.85.  
 
Shares in PanAust Limited (ASX:PNA) rose after backing a sweetened takeover offer from one it shareholders, Guangdong Rising Assets Management. The Chinese state-owned resources group has offered the ASX listed copper and gold miner $1.85 per share, valuing PanAust at about $1.2 billion. Shares in PanAust rose 6.94 per cent to close at $1.85. 
 
Shares in engineering company UGL Limited (ASX:UGL) soared after making amendments to its CEO’s remuneration and amid ongoing takeover speculation. 
 
Shares in Incitec Pivot Limited (ASX:IPL) pulled back despite posting a 27 per cent jump in its first half profit on the back of a lower Australian dollar. 
 
Ramelius Resources Limited (ASX:RMS) has scored the final approvals for its Kathleen Valley gold mine and awarded Watpac Limited (ASX:WTP) a $17 million contract. 
 
Wesfarmers Limited(ASX:WES) has appointed Michael Chaney as its new Chairman who will return to the board after leading the company for 13 years from 1992 until 2005. 
 
Best and worst performers
 
The best performing sector was energy, adding 1.5 per cent to close at 11,554. 
The worst performing sector was telco services, losing 1.7 per cent to close at 2,151 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was UGL Limited (ASX:UGL), soaring 12.37 per cent to close at $2.09. Shares in PanAust Limited (ASX:PNA) and G8 Education Limited (ASX:GEM) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX:SRX), dropping 4.61 per cent to close at $19.05. Shares in Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST) and Incitec Pivot Limited (ASX:IPL) also closed lower. 
 
Commodities
 
Gold is buying $US1,189 an ounce. 
Light crude is $0.45 higher at $US59.39 a barrel. 
 
Currencies
 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.79.