The Australian share market struggled for direction from the start of trade today, dropping at the open and remaining underwater for the rest of the session and closing 0.27 per cent lower. While most sectors finished the day in negative territory, Telcos proved to be the biggest drag on the market, followed by Financials with some profit taking in all of the big four banks. At the end of the trading day, REITS came out on top, followed by the Materials space. Gold stocks rallied in particular, after a jump in the price of the precious metal overnight.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 16 points down to finish at 5,857.
The value of trades was $4.1 billion on volume of 668 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP).
On the futures market the SPI is 12 points down.
It comes as no surprise that once again the Reserve Bank of Australia has kept interest rates on hold at a record low of 1.5 per cent at its April board meeting this afternoon. Inflation remaining quite low, slow wage growth and a variation in housing market conditions around the country were cited as reasons for no change.
Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX:GXY) says it has successfully reached nameplate throughput at its Mt Cattlin lithium operations in Ravensthorpe, Western Australia. Over the past week throughput averaged 210 dry tonnes per hour at the monthly average of 79 per cent utilisation rate. The lithium producer says further process improvements are planned in 2017 to further increase production. Shares in Galaxy Resources Limited closed 4.6 per cent lower at $0.42.
The Airport Authority of Hong Kong has awarded CIMIC Group’s (ASX:CIM) company, Leighton Asia, a $278 million deal to expand Hong Kong International Airport.
Kiwi telcos Spark New Zealand (ASX:SPK), Vodafone and 2degrees have submitted a joint proposal to the New Zealand government to improve rural broadband and mobile infrastructure.
Australian gold miner Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd (ASX:KCN) is seeking compensation from the Thai government for its alleged breach of the Australia-Thailand Free Trade Agreement.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Materials adding 0.1per cent to close at 1,395. The worst performing sector was Telcos, losing 0.7 per cent to close at 1,649 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Bellamy’s (ASX:BAL), rising 6.18 per cent to close at $4.47. Shares in Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) and St Barbara (ASX:SBM) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY), dropping 4.6 per cent to close at $0.42. Shares in Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR) and Sky Network (ASX:SKT) also closed lower.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,257 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.35 lower at $US50.25 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7569.