The Australian share market has finished the day in negative territory closing 0.85 per cent lower after opening in the red and remaining underwater for the rest of the session. The local bourse was lead down by REITs and the Financials sectors, with all of the big four banks closing around 1 per cent lower. The materials sector did experience a small pull back today, however gold stocks were the shining light after the gold price gained a couple of dollars overnight.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 49 points down to finish at 5,699.
The value of trades was $4.1 billion on volume of 604 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).
On the futures market the SPI is 49 points down.
Benitec Biopharma Limited (ASX:BLT) has announced that the European Commission has granted Orphan Drug Designation to BB-301 for the treatment of patients with ocular pharyngeal muscular dystrophy. The disease is rare and results in difficulty swallowing and weakness in multiple parts of the body. The company says there is currently no significant treatment for the disease. Shares in Benitec Biopharma closed 3.57 per cent lower at $0.14.
Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has released its fourth quarter production results for 2016, citing record bauxite production of 47.7 million tonnes and Pilbara iron ore shipments of 327.6 million tonnes in line with guidance.
Global education services provider Navitas (ASX:NVT) has renewed a contract with the University of South Australia for a further nine-year term.
Medical device company AirXpanders (ASX:AIX) says the first commercial surgical procedure using its Aeroform technology has taken place at a hospital in San Jose, California.
Best and worst performers
The sector with the least losses was Utilities losing 0.37 per cent to close at 8,018. The worst performing sector was REITs, losing 1.3 per cent to close at 1,340 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Regis Resources (ASX:RRL), rising 5.1 per cent to close at $3.30. Shares in Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) and Viva Energy (ASX:VVR) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was BT Investment Management (ASX:BTT), dropping 4.54 per cent to close at $10.10. Shares in Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) and Nanosonics (ASX:NAN) also closed lower.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,208 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.28 higher at $US53.43 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7505.