Market Wrap: ASX sinks for fourth session

Market Reports

The Australian share market sunk for the fourth straight session and lost 0.4 per cent by close. Traders remained cautious following the US Federal Reserve’s latest meeting minutes suggesting it will start to pull back stimulating the American economy. 
The gold sector shed almost 5 per cent by close and the miners also suffered following the release of soft Chinese manufacturing data. While most major sectors ended in the red health care was supported by positive company developments and energy stocks also charged ahead.
The Australian dollar came under pressure throughout the session, falling under $US0.92 cents after the latest batch of Chinese data. 
The S&P/ASX 200 index retreated 19 points to end the session at 5,288. 
The value of trades was $4.3 billion on volume of 853 million shares at the close of trade.
The top three stocks by value were Australand Property Group (ASX:ALZ), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
On the futures market the SPI is 13 points lower. 
Economic news
China’s latest manufacturing figures have come in below expectations, falling to a two-month low. The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI eased to 50.4 in November, from a final read of 50.9 the month before, but remained above 50 which indicates manufacturing activity is in expansion territory. 
Company news
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) has predicted China’s economic growth will remain above 7 per cent next year. Speaking at the global mining company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Perth today Chairman Jac Nasser also told shareholders, “China and other emerging economies will be the major drivers of global economic growth in the long term.” Mr Nasser forecast this demand could deliver up to a 75 per cent increase in demand for some commodities over the next 15 years. Shares in BHP Billiton firmed 0.03 per cent today, ending at $37.56.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) has its sights on China’s rural market having just opened a branch in downtown Beijing. The milestone comes after the bank opened a branch in Shanghai in 2011 and in the same week a new report from RFi named the bank the best lender globally at getting customers to use CBA as their 'main bank'. Shares in Commonwealth Bank of Australia dropped 0.81 per cent today, ending at $76.10. 
Shares in Unilife Corporation (ASX:UNS, NASDAQ:UNIS) climbed after the US-based developer and commercial supplier of injectable drug delivery systems inked a 15-year supply deal with Hikma Pharmaceuticals. 
Shares in Somnomed Limited (ASX:SOM) rose after the developer and marker of dental and medical products announced it has exceeded the benchmark of 150,000 patients worldwide fitted with a SomnoDent devise. 
Shares in Australand Property Group’s (ASX:ALZ) fell after a major shareholder called CapitalLand divested a 20 per cent stake in the company but will still remain the largest shareholder with a 39.1 per cent interest.
Shares in Gindalbie Metals Limited (ASX:GBG) back peddled after the magnetite producer warned its flagship Karara mine in Western Australia is facing delays due to problems with its tailings system. 
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was health care, adding 26 points to close at 13,990.
The worst performing sector was materials, losing 44 points to close at 10,015 points.
The best performing stocks were in the energy sector - Energy World Corporation Limited (ASX:EWC), rallied 8.11 per cent to close at $0.40. Shares in Karoon Gas Australia Limited (ASX:KAR) and Aurora Oil & Gas Limited (ASX:AUT) also closed higher.
The worst performing stocks were hit by the falling gold price - Perseus Mining Limited (ASX:PRU) tumbled 10.45 per cent to close at $0.30. Shares in St. Barbara Limited (ASX:SBM) and Evolution (ASX:EVN) also closed lower. 
Gold is trading at $US1,247 an ounce on the back of US tapering jitters. 
Light crude is $0.01 lower at $US93.33 a barrel. 
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9299, falling further after the release of China’s Flash PMI read.

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