Better than expected economic news gave the Australian share market a tiny lift before lunch but news the RBA was keeping interest rates firmly at historic lows provided little positivity for the ASX which finished 0.7 per cent lower.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 39 points down to finish at 5,480.
The value of trades was $4.22 billion on volume of 760 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 ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)
On the futures market the SPI is 45 points down.
A booming export trade in coal and iron ore has almost halved the current account deficit. The deficit narrowed to $5.7 billion dollars from $12.7 billion in the previous quarter. Analysts were expecting a deficit of $7 billion. Exports lifted to a surplus of $3.6 billion dollars from a deficit of $609 million in the December quarter.
ABS retail sales data lifted 0.2 per cent in April, in line with expectations.
Mean while consumer confidence could be on the rise again with the first lift in six weeks. The ANZ- Roy Morgan weekly consumer confidence index rose 2.9 per cent indicating consumers may be re-adjusting after the drag of the Federal Budget.
AJ Lucas Group Limited (ASX:AJL)
has appointed a new CEO and Managing director. The supplier of drilling services chose Russell Eggers after a comprehensive search. Mr Eggers brings extensive executive and consulting experience in mining and energy services. The Board has also appointed two new non-executive directors in Ian Meares and Andrew Purcell. At the same time AJ Lucas confirmed it expects earnings in line with its previous guidance of a breakeven result for FY2014. Shares in AJ Lucas retreated 5.56 per cent to $0.85 on the news.
Metgasco Limited (ASX:MEL)
has initiated legal action against the Office of Coal Seam Gas for suspending its approval to drill at its Rosella well. The company is looking at options to seek damages after the New South Wales Energy Minister Anthony Roberts said he had written to ICAC regarding Metgasco’s conduct in community consultation. However, the company says ICAC has made it clear there was no information in the referral that was indicative of corrupt conduct. Chairman Len Gill says the referral has caused major damage to the company’s reputation. Shares in Metgasco retreated 10.91 per cent to $0.05 in today’s trade.
Yowie Group Limited (ASX:YOW)
had a good result from participation in a Sweets Expo in Chicago. The company says it has had its first order from an retail candy chain for 68 cases of its product.
Industrial services provider Decmil Group Limited (ASX:DCG)
seems to be successfully diversifying away from mining business. Today the company announced it has won $10 million worth of major governmental contracts with the Australian Defence Force and Main Roads Western Australia.
Shares in Funtastic Limited (ASX:FUN)
have recoverd after the company yesterday halved its full year earnings guidance and announced the resignation of its CEO Stewart Downs.
Best and worst performers
All major sectors were down. The sector with the least losses was real estate investment trusts losing 5 points to close at 1,068.The worst performing sector was consumer discretionary, losing 30 points to close at 1,791 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Lynas Corp, rising 9.68 per cent to close at $0.17. Shares in Sirius Resources and Karoon Gas also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Veda Group , dropping 5.7 per cent to close at $2.15. Shares in Regis Resources and Mesoblast also closed lower.
Gold is buying $US1,247 an ounce. Light crude is $0.24 down at $US102.47 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 92.65 US cents.