Strong leads from overseas markets led Australian shares higher early but a late sell off on the back of soft economic figures and profit writedowns saw the ASX finish just 0.1 per cent higher.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 6 points up to finish at 5,470.
The value of trades was $3.56 billion on volume of 587 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and CSL Limited (ASX:CSL).
On the futures market the SPI is 2 points down.
The ABS says home loan approval figures were flat in April, analysts were expecting a 0.2 per cent rise. However new home construction loans rose showing building activity is set to continue. The NAB monthly business survey for May has reported that business confidence survived the unveiling of the ‘horror’ Federal Budget. Confidence was unchanged from April however May sales were soft despite a bounce back of forward orders from April. Softer conditions are expected to continue for the second half of the year.
The ANZ monthly survey of job advertisements showed the first dip in 5 months with job ads down a sharp 5.6 per cent following from a 2.2 per cent rise in April.
Shares in Newsat Limited (ASX:NWT)
have recovered a little after plunging up to 26 percent this morning when the company forecast a full year net loss and flagged forming a spending review committee to tackle costs. Australia's largest pure-play satellite communications company now says it expects to report a net loss of between $5 million to $6 million in fiscal 2014, down from a profit of $10.5 million in fiscal 2013. At the time of releasing first half results, Newsat attributed its result to a loss of contracts from a key partner to the US government as a result of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The company has also been impacted by declines in economic activity across military, mining, oil and gas sectors and says market conditions have not improved as expected. Shares in Newsat have seen a roller coaster ride in the past 12 months and closed 20 per cent lower today at $0.30.
Pacific Brands Limited (ASX:PBG)
says it will launch a strategic review now it expects earnings to be 14 per cent less than originally anticipated. Warm weather and the fall in consumer sentiment are being blamed for the write downs with full year results now expected in the range of $90 - $93 million down from $105 million. Pacific Brands has also warned its net debt is expected to increase and the company will book a one-off restructuring cost of between $25 million to $30 million this year. Shares in Pacific Brands slid 8.93 per cent to $0.51.
The Reject Shop Limited (ASX:TRS) has also blamed warm weather and consumer sentiment for lower sales and a downgrade in profit guidance.
Shares in Panoramic Resources Limited (ASX:PAN)
have jumped after the nickel miner said it had achieved record monthly ore production in May.
Shares in Seven Group Holdings Limited (ASX:SVW)
are trading higher after news today that its takeover of Nexus Energy Limited (ASX:NXS)
is under growing opposition from shareholders.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was telco services adding 10 points to close at 1,833.The worst performing sector was healthcare, losing 192 points to close at 14,399 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Karoon Gas, rising 4.86 per cent to close at $3.45. Shares in Acrux and Orora also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was The Reject Shop, dropping 12.02 per cent to close at $8.05. Shares in Pacific Brands and Paladin Energy also closed lower.
Gold is buying $US1,255 an ounce. Light crude is $1.75 up at $US104.41 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 93.73US cents.