Market Wrap: Aus shares close 0.6% lower

Market Reports

Following weak economic data from the US and China, the Australian share market opened lower and fell 1 per cent in early trading before closing 0.6 per cent down. 

Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index 28 points down to finish at 4,292. On the futures market, the SPI is currently 36 points down.

Economic news

Australia’s construction industry has contracted for the 22nd straight month. The Australian Industry Group and Housing Industry Association’s performance of construction index added 0.6 points to 36.2 in March, remaining under the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction.

ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) job advertisements survey has shown job ads increased for a third straight month. Total job ads on the internet and in major metropolitan newspapers were up 1 per cent in March after an increase of 3.3 per cent the month before.

Company news 

Transpacific Industries Group Limited (ASX:TPI) has reached a conditional $35 million settlement with shareholders over its alleged disclosure breaches during the period of August 2007 to February 2009. The waste management company has made no admission of liability and will pay $25million in June this year and will defer up to $10 million until 30 June, 2014. Shares in Transpacific closed 1.29 per cent up at $0.785.

Uranium production company Paladin Energy Limited (ASX:PDN) is in discussions with a group of nuclear industry parties to seek minority joint venture interest in its non-producing uranium assets. Paladin says high quality uranium assets are attracting premium prices in the current environment. Shares in Paladin closed 2.97 per cent up at $1.735.

Gunns Limited (ASX:GNS) has requested a suspension from trading until the details of a proposed equity raising has been finalised. The forestry company will provide a further update to the market early next week.

Mirvac Group’s (ASX:MGR) chief financial officer Justin Mitchell has resigned. Mr Mitchell was appointed CFO in 2007 and is expected to remain in the position until 1 October this year. Mirvac says an external search to fill the position will commence immediately.

Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX:WPL) has pushed back the deadline to make a final investment decision on its Browse LNG development in Western Australia's Kimberley region. The oil and gas producer will now make a decision on the $40 billion project in the first half of next year.

Austar United Communications Limited (ASX:AUN) has been given the green light by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission  after announcing it will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Austar by Foxtel Management Pty Ltd.
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Telco Services closing flat at 1,152 points.
The worst performing sector was Health Care, losing 205 points to close at 8,625.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Macmahon Holdings Limited (ASX:MAH), rising 3.33 per cent to close at $0.775. Shares in Ardent Leisure Group and Aston Resources also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was Energy World Corporation Limited. (ASX:EWC) dropping 7.48 per cent to close at $0.68. Shares in Kagara and Karoon Gas Australia also closed lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,652 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.24 down at $US102.22 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.0312.cents