It has been another lack-lustre end to the trading session for the Australian share market, following on from yesterday’s red finish. The local bourse dropped at the open and lingered in negative territory throughout the session, before closing practically flat or 0.07 per cent lower. Utilities proved to be the biggest drag on the market this session, followed by losses in Healthcare. The Consumer Discretionaries sector was the best performer for the day with gains in the likes of Adairs Limited (ASX:ADH) and Billabong (ASX:BBG).
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 4 points down to finish at 5,791.
The value of trades was $6.1 billion on volume of 863 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ).
On the futures market the SPI is 6 points down.
The Reserve Bank of Australia has released the minutes for its February board meeting citing the reasons for once again keeping the cash rate on hold at a record low of 1.5 per cent. While its outlook for the Australian economy remains positive, the RBA stated that keeping rates on hold would allow a return to 2 to 3 per cent inflation, as opposed to 1.5 per cent at present.
Fairfax Media Limited (ASX:FXJ) has gone into a trading halt pending the release of an announcement in relation to the Domain Group. There is media speculation that Fairfax will consider spinning-off Domain into a separate listed vehicle. Fairfax will remain in a trading halt until the earlier of this Thursday or when an announcement is released to the market. Shares in Fairfax Media Limited last traded at $0.87.
Shopping centre giant Scentre Group (ASX:SCG) has posted a 10.4% increase in full-year NPAT to $2.99 billion.
BHP spin-off South32 (ASX:S32), has entered into a strategic alliance agreement with small-cap explorer, Ausquest Ltd (ASX:AQD).
Growthpoint Properties Australia Ltd (ASX:GOZ) reported a 9.4 per cent decline in NPAT to $113 million for H1 2017.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Consumer Discretionaries adding 0.4 per cent to close at 2,063. The worst performing sector was Utilities, losing 0.9 per cent to close at 8,243 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Monadelphous (ASX:MND), rising 11.53 per cent to close at $13.16. Shares in Greencross (ASX:GXL) and Vocus Communications (ASX:VOC) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Independence Group (ASX:IGO), dropping 6.18 per cent to close at $3.95. Shares in Aconex (ASX:ACX) and WorleyParsons (ASX:WOR) also closed lower.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,233 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.21 higher at $US53.99 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7667.