Market Wrap: Aus shares ease at close

Market Reports

The Australian share market eased today, despite positive leads from Europe and Wall St overnight. Lower metal prices and concerns over monetary tightening in China contributed to pushing the banks and miners lower.

The S&P/ASX200 Index lost 21 points today to close at 4,763. On the futures market, the SPI is down 19 points.

Company news: Former non-executive directors of James Hardie Industries SE (ASX:JHX) have successfully appealed a court judgement that would have prohibited them from holding company board seats for five years. However, the company itself lost its appeal against Australia’s corporate regulator, for informing the market it had enough funds to pay an asbestos compensation fund, and has been ordered to pay 90 per cent of the costs incurred by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Shares in James Hardie lost 1.33 per cent to close at $6.68.

Theme-park operator Village Roadshow Ltd (ASX:VRL) has penned a deal to sell its aquarium and attractions businesses to Merlin Entertainments Group, receiving net cash proceeds of around $115 million. Due to the impact of interest from the proceeds, the company will book a loss of around $5 million on the sale. Shares in Village Roadshow lifted 3.81 per cent to close at $2.45.

Shares in Hills Holdings Ltd (ASX:HIL) slipped over 12 per cent today after the company warned it is expecting its first half profit to fall by 30 per cent, compared to the same time last year.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) has cautioned funding costs are likely to continue to experience volatility, issuing the warning at its annual general meeting today.

State-run Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) is buying a 15 per cent stake in Santos Ltd’s (ASX:STO) Gladstone LNG joint-venture, bringing it one step closer to a final investment decision on the $15 billion project.

The Australian competition watchdog has given a green light to South African-based Aspen Pharmacare Holdings to acquire Sigma Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:SIP) pharmaceutical’s division for $900 million.

In the best and worst performers: The best performing sector at close was Telco Services, with the index lifted 7 to close at 955. The worst performing sector was Real Estate Investment Trusts with the index dropping 15 points to close at 843.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund, shares added 6.25% to close at $1.70. Shares in Mineral Resources and Mirabela Nickel also advanced today. The worst performing stock was Hills Holdings shares lost 12.04% to close at $1.90. Shares in Platinum Australia and Goodman Group also fell today.

In commodities, gold is trading at $US1,376 an ounce. And light crude is up $0.53 at $US88.23 a barrel. The Australian Dollar is buying 99.11 US cents.

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