Market Wrap: ASX trims losses, remains cautious

Market Reports

Despite investors remaining cautious, the Australian share market clawed back its losses in afternoon trade, led by a strong rally in Qantas, which soared more than 13 per cent after swinging from a $244 million loss last year to a $6 million profit in fiscal 2014. Among the sectors, gains in energy, materials and consumer staples cancelled out losses in healthcare and financials. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 5 points up to finish at 5,092. The value of trades was $4.6 billion on volume of 826 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 7 points up.
 
Economic news
 
Australian business investment rose by 4 per cent in the June quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The median market forecast was for a rise of 0.8 per cent. During fiscal 2014, businesses expect to invest $159.23 billion, 11.2 per cent below last years estimate.
 
The Australian Bureau of Statistics says capital expenditure rose against expectations in the June quarter, lifting by 4 per cent to $40 billion. Bloomberg analysts had forecast a flat result.
 
New home sales have fallen for the first time in five months, according to the Housing Industry Association. Sales fell by 4.7 per cent in July, however HIA’s chief economist believes the fall to be merely a temporary setback.
 
Company news 
 
Kingsgate Consolidated Limited (ASX:KCN) shares took a hammering today after the gold miner plunged to a full year loss of $324 million, due to mostly flagged impairment and asset writedowns of $336 million. The result was also hit by a lack of production upside at Kingsgate’s Challenger mine in South Australia, with a fiscal 2014 production forecast of up to 210 thousand ounces falling short of last years anticipated output. Shares in Kingsgate closed 22.63 per cent down at $2.12. 
 
Westfield Retail Trust (ASX:WRT) has maintained its full year earnings guidance despite a 3.6 per cent dip in its interim net profit of $402.1 million. Managing Director Domenic Panaccio says the groups focus moving forward will be on driving the operating performance of its portfolio to increase underlying cashflows in a challenging retail environment. Shares in WRT closed 0.34 per cent up at $2.93. 
 
Westfield Group’s (ASX:WDC) shares eased 0.72 per cent after half year net profit fell steeply to $524 million, weighed by an increase in property development and project management costs.
 
Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN) soared 13.82 per cent after the carrier posted a full year net profit of $6 million but did not offer profit guidance for the current financial year, saying volatility and uncertainty plagues the economy, global aviation markets and fuel prices.
 
Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX:RHC) shares rose 5.32 per cent after it boosted full year net profit by 9 per cent to $266.4 million and says it will continue its growth strategy of reinvesting in existing facilities, developing more partnerships and pursuing acquisitions in new markets
 
David Jones Limited (ASX:DJS) shares firmed despite the retailer saying sales revenue dipped by 1.2 per cent to $1.85 billion in fiscal 2013, amid a continually challenging retail environment.
 
Best and worst performers 

The best performing sector was Energy adding 138 points to close at 13,658.
The worst performing sector was Healthcare, losing 111 points to close at 13,801.
 
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Transfield Services Limited (ASX:TSE), rising 22.22 per cent to close at $1.10. Shares in Ausdrill Limited (ASX:ASL) and Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Kingsgate Consolidated Limited (ASX:KCN), dropping 22.63 per cent to close at $2.12. Shares in St. Barbara Limited (ASX:SBM) and Billabong International Limited (ASX:BBG) also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,412 an ounce. Light crude is $1.09 up at $US110.10 a barrel.

The Australian dollar 

The Australian dollar has recovered nearly a cent from hitting three week lows on Syria fears overnight, it’s now buying $US0.8973.