Market Wrap: Aus shares close flat

Market Reports

The Australian share market has closed flat today after a positive start, with investors returning to trade after yesterday’s crash. The Reserve Bank’s decision on interest rates was in line with expectations.

The S&P/ASX200 Index closed 5 points lower today to 4,826. On the futures market, the SPI is down 1 point.

Economic news: The big news of the day - The Reserve Bank of Australia has left interest rates on hold for a fourth consecutive month. The official cash rate remains at 4.75 per cent.

Company news: Centro Properties Group (ASX:CNP) has confirmed it will sell its US assets. The company will look to merge Centro Properties into one fund as part of the restructure. Centro has entered into an agreement to sell off its US assets and services businesses to BRE Retail Holdings Inc for $US9.4 billion. Centro said substantial work lay ahead to finalise the restructure. Shares in Centro Properties Group are down 13.33 per cent to close at $0.13. 

Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (ASX:CBA) computer system experienced technical difficulties today. Customers were unable to access internet banking and Eftpos services. The bank says the problems arose from routine database maintenance carried out overnight. It is likely the bank will need to compensate customers for the inconvenience. CBA shares are down 0.13 per cent to close at $53.04

Leighton Holdings Ltd (ASX:LEI), owners of Leighton Contractors, has been awarded a three-year contract valued at $225 million by BMC to continue mining services in Central Queensland. Leighton Mining currently employs 220 people at the mine.

A shareholder and founding family member of Crane Group Ltd (ASX:CRG) has urged investors today to reject Fletcher Building’s takeover offer. The deadline for the offer is March 11. Peter Crane said he believed the best outcome would be for investors to push for a new board at Crane.

The computer glitch that yesterday struck the operator of the Australian Securities Exchange, ASX Ltd (ASX:ASX), is believed to have wiped off around $1.5 billion in turnover.

Equinox Minerals Ltd (ASX:EQN) surprise bid of $4.85 billion for Lundin Mining has been met with opposition. Lundin Mining’s chief executive said a combination with Equinox was of “zero” strategic benefit.

In the best and worst performers: The best performing sector at close was Consumer Staples with the index rising 31 to close at 7,890. The worst performing sector was Real Estate Investment Trusts easing 9 points to close at 870. The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Lynas Corporation Ltd, shares gained 8.21 per cent to close at $2.11. Shares in CuDeco Ltd and Southern Cross Media Group also closed stronger today. The worst performing stock was Equinox Minerals Ltd, shares plunged 6.41 per cent to close at $5.84. Shares in Hills Holdings Ltd and White Energy Company Ltd also dropped today.

In commodities, gold is trading at $US1,413 an ounce. Light crude gained 46 cents at $US97.43 a barrel.

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