It has been another dismal finish to the trading day for the Australian share market, following on from yesterday’s losses. The local bourse went south at the open and managed to recoup some of those early losses in the last couple of hours of trade, closing the day 0.82 per cent lower. There was a sell-off in the Health Care space, with losses across the board in particular in Sirtex Medical (ASX:SRX) and CSL Limited (ASX:CSL). Most sectors finished the day in negative territory, but at the end of the session it was Telcos that was the best of a bad bunch.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 48 points down to finish at 5,738.
The value of trades was $7.3 billion on volume of 1 billion shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC), National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).
On the futures market the SPI is 50 points down.
Taking a look at how Asian markets are tracking in afternoon trade. The Nikkei is 1.35 per cent lower, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is 0.31 per cent lower and the Shanghai Composite is 0.39 per cent lower.
The ABS says Australia's unemployment rate has fallen to 5.7 per cent seasonally adjusted, or remained stagnant at 5.8 per cent in trend terms. Total employment growth over the year came in at 1.3 per cent, which remains below the average growth rate over the past 20 years of 1.8 per cent.
Sirtex Medical (ASX:SRX) shares have plummeted almost 30 per cent today following a couple of announcements by the liver cancer treatment company relating to its SIR-Spheres treatment and a personnel change. A latest study has shown that there is no difference in the liver cancer survival rate for patients using SIR Spheres and chemotherapy, than just using chemotherapy alone. Mr Kevin Richardson the CEO of the Americas has stood down effective immediately. Shares in Sirtex closed 28.33 per cent lower at $10.75.
Fairfax Media Limited (ASX:FXJ) has received a proposal from private equity firm, Hellman and Friedman and its associates to buy 100% of the shares in Fairfax (on a fully diluted basis) at $1.225 to $1.250 cash per share.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted Virgin Australia Airlines (ASX:VAH) approval for a Fly-in-Fly-out Airline service.
Kore Potash Limited (ASX:K2P) has been granted a 25-year license extension from The Republic of Congo, by Presidential Decree for it existing operations in the Republic.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Telcos adding 0.29 per cent to close at 1,531. The worst performing sector was Health Care, losing 1.97 per cent to close at 22,823 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Fairfax Media (ASX:FXJ), rising 6.9 per cent to close at $1.24. Shares in Vocus Group (ASX:VOC) and Western Areas (ASX:WSA) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Sirtex Medical (ASX:SRX), dropping 28.33 per cent to close at $10.75. Shares in James Hardie (ASX:JHX) and Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) also closed lower.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,259 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.62 up at $US49.28 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7463.