Market Wrap: Aus shares close 0.8% down

Market Reports

The Australian share market has fallen 0.8 per cent to close at its lowest level in over a month . This follows disappointing housing finance data and a soft consumer sentiment survey. Resource stocks fell due to lower commodities and metals prices.

The S&P/ASX200 Index closed 40 points lower at 4,768. On the futures market, the SPI is down by 33 points.
Economic news: The number of home loans approved in January fell 4.5 per cent, to a seasonally adjusted 48,871. The Australian Bureau of Statistics says total housing finance by value fell by 5.3 per cent in the same month, seasonally adjusted, to 20.29 billion dollars.

Company news: Qantas Airways Ltd (ASX:QAN) is increasing its international fuel surcharge again from the 17 March. This is in response to the continued oil and jet fuel price hikes. The rise will range between $30 and $45, depending on the destination. It is the second time in five weeks that Qantas has lifted fuel surcharges on global flights. Chief executive Alan Joyce says fuel costs for the Qantas Group in the second half of this financial year is expected to rise to $2 billion. Shares in Qantas Airways rose by 0.43 per cent to close at $2.34.   

Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX:TLS) has warned the Senate that national broadband network (NBN) regulation could stop competition. Telstra also has called on the government to ban the NBN Co from controlling an internet service provider.
NBN Co would be allowed to control a retailer for up to a year, but Telstra says this would breach the government's policy of making it a wholesaler only. Shares in Telstra fell by 1.44 per cent to close at $2.73.

Eagle Eye Metals Ltd's (ASX:EYE) shares were up 115 per cent today after 11.78 million shares in the company changed hands. The minerals exploration company announced it would acquire West African gold projects through the recommended takeover of Birimian Gold.

Thor Mining Plc (ASX:THR) has commenced a maiden drilling program at the Dundas Gold Project in Western Australia. 

OZ Minerals Ltd (ASX:OZL) has inked a $250 million deal to buy the Carrapateena copper-gold project in South Australia.

Shares in Extract Resources Ltd (ASX:EXT) rose following news CGNPC Uranium Resources has launched a $1.2 billion bid for its major shareholder, Kalahari Minerals.

Best and worst performers: The best performing sector was Utilities, with the index up by 1 point to close at 4,176. The worst performing sector was Materials, with the index 203 points lower to close at 13,957. The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was Extract Resources. Shares rose 7.95 per cent to close at $10.73. Shares in Aristocrat Leisure and DUET Group also lifted today. The worst performing stock was Medusa Mining. Shares fell 4.35 per cent to close at $7.04. Shares in Ten Network and Bow Energy also dropped.

In commodities, gold is trading at $US1,425 an ounce. Light crude is down by $0.72 cents at $US104 a barrel.




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