The Australian share market closed 0.4 per cent higher, easing from the days highs in late trade as debutant stock Virtus health helped lift the healthcare sector by 2.1 per cent. Strong gains were also seen in Energy and Consumer discretionary stocks, while the materials sector finished flat after NAB’s business survey highlighted an 11 year low in mining capex.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 19 points up to finish at 4,757. The value of trades was $4.6 billion on volume of 765 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
, Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
On the futures market the SPI is 31 points down.
Mining capex has reached its lowest level in over a decade, according to the NAB business survey for May. Capital expenditure in mining sank 37 points to an index reading of negative 44 points. Amid the resources gloom, the business conditions index reading came in at minus 4, a slight improvement on April’s minus 6 reading, achieved in a climate of falling dollar prices and historically low interest rates.
Home loan demand fell below expectations in April according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The number of home loans lifted 0.8 per cent to 48,475, short of analyst expectations for a 2 per cent rise.
Virtus Health Limited (ASX:VRT)
floated today with an issue price of $5.68 and straddled a day high of $6.22, its debut performance flowing onto the rest of the healthcare sector. Ansell Limited (ASX:ANN)
, Cochlear Limited (ASX:COH)
and Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX:SHL)
all saw gains in excess of 3 per cent as Virtus single- handedly boosted confidence in both health stocks and IPO offerings. Virtus saw a total value of $96 million on a volume of 15 million shares on its first trading day. Shares in Virtus Health closed at $6.20, after opening at $6.07.
Gindalbie Metals Limited (ASX:GBG)
soared more than 21 per cent today after Chinese Ansteel agreed to extend bridging loans to a $1.3 billion iron ore project the two companies are developing. In return for bolstering funding for the project, Ansteel will take a controlling stake in the mine. Shares in Gindalbie closed 21.05 per cent up at $0.12.
Childcare centre operator G8 Education Limited (ASX:GEM)
is set to acquire 17 premium centres from vendors in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria at a total value of $24 million.
Civil contractor NRW Holdings Limited (ASX:NWH)
has lowered its full year earnings and revenue guidance due to delays in new contract awards and slower than anticipated project ramp ups.
ASX Limited (ASX:ASX)
is in a trading halt as the market operator launches a capital raising aimed to net more than half a billion dollars.
Macmahon Holdings Limited (ASX:MAH)
has been accused of a serious safety breach by Glencore Xstrata, which terminated the contractor from a copper mine expansion project.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Healthcare adding 262 points to close at 12,693.
The worst performing sector was Real estate investment trusts, losing 5 points to close at 1,020.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Discovery Metals Limited (ASX:DML)
, rising 12.5 per cent to close at $0.18. Shares in Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX:SRX)
and Fleetwood Corporation Limited (ASX:FWD)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML)
, dropping 12.29 per cent to close at $2.07. Shares in Mirabela Nickel Limited (ASX:MBN)
and Coalspur Mines Limited (ASX:CPL)
also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,382 an ounce. Light crude is $0.10 down at $US95.67 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9412.