Market Wrap: Aus shares close 1.18% lower

Market Reports

The Australian share market closed 1.18 per cent lower today, marking its fourth day of losses. Materials, Energy and Financials led falls as markets across the region were broadly lower following a nuclear test by North Korea and a stronger than expected yuan devaluation by the PBOC.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 61 points down to finish at 5,123. 
 
The value of trades was $4 billion on volume of 661 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 66 points up/down.

Economic news

China’s services sector activity grew at a slower pace in December. The Caixin China Services PMI fell to 50.2 from 51.2 in November. Meanwhile in local news the AiG Services PMI for December slipped to 46.3 from 48.2 in November; its lowest read since November 2014.
 
Company news
 
Grange Resources Limited (ASX:GRR) has warned an optimization strategy may result in redundancies being made. The company cites continued weakness in the iron ore price and subdued pellet demand despite efforts to significantly reduce costs. Grange Resources closed 4.4 per cent up at $0.095. 
 
Covata Limited (ASX:CVT) has partnered with MZ Group to enhance the company’s public presence in key global markets. The investment relations company will be focused on increasing the company’s visibility amongst investors in the US, Europe and Asia. Shares in Covata closed 2.86 per cent up at $0.36. 
 
Asciano Limited (ASX:AIO) continues to dance between suitors in a $9 billion takeover bid. 
 
Incitec Pivot Limited (ASX:IPL) says it expects a one-off $14 million write down from a train derailment in Julia Creek, Queensland. 
 
CIMIC Group (ASX:CIM) says Asian subsidiary Leighton Contractors in conjunction with Chun Wo Building Construction has won a $205 million contract for the Hong Kong-Zhuhau-Macao Bridge project. 
 
Dick Smith Holdings Limited (ASX:DSH) says it has appointed Ferrier Hodgson partners James Stewart, Ryan Eagle and Jim Sarantinos as Receivers and Managers of Dick Smith Holdings and its subsidiaries.

Best and worst performers
 
The best performing sector was Utilities  adding 0.2 per cent to close at 6,839. The worst performing sector was Materials, losing 2.5 per cent to close at 6,722 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Blackmores, rising 4.24 per cent to close at $220.37 Shares in Bega Cheese and Sirtex also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Slater & Gordon, dropping 6.79 per cent to close at $0.76. Shares in Ardent Leisure and AWE also closed lower. 

Commodities and the dollar
 
Gold is trading at $US1,079 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.62 down at $US36.14 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7124

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