Market Wrap: Aus shares spend day in the red

Market Reports

The Australian share market has closed 0.3% lower after a day spent in negative territory. The market opened lower this morning, shadowing US markets on concerns over the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary easing efforts and ongoing concerns about European stimulus measures. Domestically, shares have been weighed down by miners for a third consecutive day.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 11 points down today, finishing at 4,362. On the futures market, the SPI is currently 18 points down.

Company news

Crown Limited (ASX:CWN) has disregarded the threat of a shareholder backlash that would cause a board spill in effecting no changes to its executive pay policy. Four of the Casino operator’s six senior executives took home a bigger pay packet in the 2011/12 financial year, while base salaries either rose or remained the same as the previous year. Crown's pay report was slammed by shareholders last year, receiving a 55 per cent `no' vote. A 25 per cent negative vote against this years report would force the majority of board positions to be vacated and put up for re-election. Shares in Crown closed 1.22 per cent up at $9.10.

Gunns Limited (ASX:GNS) is likely to have its $2.3 billion Bell Bay pulp mill sold by receivers. Administrator PPB Advisory says they are confident there would be a market for Gunns’ assets including saw mills and forestry plantations in Tasmania and South Australia. Despite the wood chipper going into administration, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust is challenging its Bell Bay pulp mill permit in the Supreme Court. Gunns last traded at $0.16 but has been in a trading halt since March 9th.

Shares in Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT) eased 3.45 per cent today after news that Singapore’s state-owned investment company, Temasek, entered into an agreement to sell 400 million shares in the company.

Shares in G8 Education Limited (ASX:GEM) firmed 3.10 percent today after an appeals court in Singapore dismissed three separate contractual disputes against the childcare and education provider.

Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX:HVN) has rated poorly among its rivals in a customer service survey, with the retailer being criticised for poor staff product knowledge and a lack of customer contact.

Mirvac Group (ASX:MGR) is reportedly actively looking for new development opportunities after completing the main structural works at its latest Sydney tower yesterday.

Best and worst performers 

The best performing sector was Health Care adding 156 points to close at 10,318. The worst performing sector was Energy, losing 139 to close at 12,345 points.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Treasury Wine Estates Limited (ASX:TWE), rising 3.94 per cent to close at $5.01. Shares in Navitas Limited (ASX:NVT) and David Jones Limited (ASX:DJS) also finished higher.

The worst performing stock was Gindalbie Metals Limited (ASX:GBG), dropping 6.67 per cent to close at $0.28. Shares in Linc Energy Limited (ASX:LNC) and Coalspur Mines Limited (ASX:CPL) were also down at market close.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,765 an ounce.

Light crude is $0.49 down at $US90.88 a barrel.

The Australian Dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.034.