Market Wrap: Aus shares close lower

Market Reports

Aussie shares slid to finish 0.8 per lower today with most sectors closing in the red. The miners lost ground on Shell’s $3.3 billion sale of its stake in Woodside Petroleum, while a strong Aussie dollar and recent interest rate hike contributed to NAB’s read on business confidence falling to a 15 month low.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index is 38 points lower to finish at 4,741. On the futures market, the SPI200 is down 54 points.

To company news: According to the Australian Associated Press ANZ Banking Group Ltd (ASX:ANZ) has hitched its interest rates for fixed rate home loans, but is still locked in a standoff with rival banks over variable mortgage interest rates. AAP reports financial comparison website RateCity has revealed ANZ has increased its interest rate on one, two, four and five-year fixed home loans by up to nine basis points. RateCity has told AAP that none of ANZ’s main rivals have moved their fixed home loan rates. Shares in ANZ Banking Group closed 1.33% lower at $23.75.

Origin Energy Ltd (ASX:ORG) says it has received environmental approval for its 50:50 joint venture with ConocoPhillips for its coal seam gas to liquefied natural gas project. The project, called Australia Pacific LNG was granted the go-ahead from the Queensland government in addition to strict conditions Origin must adhere to, and will not just need the federal government’s endorsement before Origin can proceed. Shares in Origin Energy closed 1.39% down at $16.34.

AWE Ltd (ASX:AWE) says it has indentified a very large potential gas resource at its Perth Basin shale gas acreage, with initial estimates of between 13 to 20 trillion cubic feet of gross gas in place.

RCG Corporation Ltd (ASX:RCG) has confirmed its fiscal 2011 profit guidance, the owner of the Athlete’s Foot retail franchise is expecting over a 20 per cent lift net profit after tax to between $8.4 million to $8.8 million.

James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch have accepted Ten Network Holdings Ltd (ASX:TEN) invitation to join the board.

Shares in Austal Ltd (ASX:ASB) advanced over 17 per cent today, after the shipbuilder announced it will share a contract with Lockheed Martin to deliver 10 coastal warships to the US Navy.

In the best and worst performers: The best performing sector was Health Care steady at 8,459. The worst performing sector was Energy with the index falling 403 points to 15,779. The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was AWE shares were 14.89% higher at $1.89. Shares in Medusa Mining and St Barbara also closed higher. The worst performing stock was Murchison Metals with shares dropping 12.73% to close at $1.20. Shares in Adelaide Brighton and Woodside Petroleum also closed weaker.

In commodities, gold is trading at $1411 US an ounce. Light crude is down $0.31 at $86.75.