Australian markets have regained some ground after early losses but the ASX still managed to close in the red. Figures from the ABS suggest private capital expenditure has dropped showing a contraction in major investment spending. The market was also weighed by the iron ore price falling below $97. The miners took a hit today while Toll holdings and Transfield Services pushed higher.
New home sales extended gains in April. The HIA announced a 2.9 per cent increase in sales saying the home building sector is becoming ever more important for Australian economic growth.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 8 points down to finish at 5,520.
The value of trades was $3.33 billion on volume of 552 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
, Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO)
and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
On the futures market the SPI is 11 points down.
Toll Holdings Limited (ASX:TOL)
has outlined plans for a business restructure which is expected to annually generate savings of between $10 million to $12 million. The transport and logistics company will consolidate its six divisions to five from the beginning of the new financial year. Managing Director Brian Kruger says it is critical Toll Holdings reduces complexity and costs, improves its productivity and builds on its strengths. Shares in Toll are up 4.93 per cent to $5.53
New Hope Corporation Limited (ASX:NHC)
has flagged job cuts while also announcing its output grew in the three months to the end of April. The coal producer improved saleable coal production by 18 per cent to 1.43 million tonnes as the prior period was impacted by heavy rainfall. Over the quarter coal sales dropped 17 per cent to 1.33 million tonnes due to the uneven timing of shipments. Shares in New Hope have dropped 2.01 per cent to $2.92
Egg producer Farm Pride Foods Limited (ASX:FRM)
has been implicated in an alleged egg cartel. The ACCC has launched legal action against a number of Australian egg producers and the Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL). Australia's competition regulator claims the egg industry’s most powerful services body encouraged members to cull hens or dispose of eggs available for supply.
Shares in Range Resources Limited (ASX:RRS, LON:RRL) have surged after confirming it has received $US12 million from a Hong Kong-based private investor Abraham Limited.
Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU)
has spruiked an upbeat outlook for minerals sands market. The producer expects total zircon, rutile and synthetic rutile sales this year to grow beyond last year’s figure of 580,000 tonnes.
Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG)
has called for the enforcement of policies to encourage the development of Western Australia’s abundant gas reserves. The Pilbara focussed iron ore miner is hoping to make a long term switch from imported diesel to reliable, competitively priced Australian natural gas.
Best and worst performers of the day
The best performing sector was telco services adding 13 points to close at 1,874.The worst performing sector was materials, losing 131 points to close at 9,990 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Toll Holdings Limited (ASX:TOL)
, rising 4.93 per cent to close at $5.53. Shares in Pacific Brands Limited (ASX:PBG)
and ALS Limited (ASX:ALQ)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Skilled Group Limited (ASX:SKE)
, dropping 6.19 per cent to close at $2.73. Shares in Monadelphous Group Limited (ASX:MND)
and Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO)
also closed lower.
Gold is buying $US1,257 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.39 down at $US102.72 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9296