The Australian share market has ended flat in afternoon trade after losses in the big four banks scuttled early gains.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.1 points lower to finish at 5,511.
The value of trades was $3.86 billion on volume of 627 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
, ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)
and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
On the futures market the SPI is 8 points up/down.
Wesfarmers Limited’s (ASX:WES)
supermarket business Coles plans to enter the financial services business and take on the big four banks. Coles has announced a 50/50 joint venture with GE Capital to offer personal loans, credit cards, and personal finance products. Subject to approvals the business is expected to start operating next year and will utilise new payment technologies to deliver financial services to Australian consumers. Coles Finance Director Rob Scott says the joint venture is a logical next step for Coles to expand into financial services and build on its Coles No Annual Fee and credit card Rewards offerings. Coles expects its existing 400,000 MasterCard customer accounts to form part of the deal while Coles Insurance products will not be included. Shares in Wesfarmers closed 0.07 per cent stronger at $43.13.
OZ Minerals Limited (ASX:OZL) says it has achieved higher than expected copper production in the June quarter. Record mining rates and high mill availability have combined to yield year-to-date production of over 40,000 tonnes of copper and 64,000 ounces of gold. Oz Minerals says it’s now on track to deliver full year production of 85,000 to 90,000 tonnes of copper, up from previous guidance of 75,000 to 80,000 tonnes. However gold production is expected towards the lower end of the previously announced estimate of 130,000 – 140,000 ounces. Results from the Carrapateena pre-feasibility study are close to completion and will be released when finalised, however no major flaws have been identified. Drill results from the Bellas Gate exploration project in Jamaica are also showing significant copper and gold mineralisation.
Shares in Oz Minerals have dipped 0.23 per cent to $4.30.
Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC)
has reported record full year coal production at its mines with total coal sales up by 22 per cent on the previous year.
Internet-based travel service Webjet Limited (ASX:WEB)
has agreed to pay $30 million for European online hotel provider SunHotels Group.
PanAust Limited (ASX:PNA)
says it still has not received an acceptable takeover offer from its largest shareholder.
Metal explorer Cassini Resources Limited (ASX:CZI)
says its recently acquired West Musgrave Project is showing promising signs of delivering high grade copper and nickel with potential for an open cut mine.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was telco services adding 0.4 per cent to close at 1,874. The worst performing sector was industrials, losing 0.3 per cent to close at 4,118 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Whitehaven Coal, rising 5.08 per cent to close at $1.55. Shares in Mount Gibson Iron and Sandfire Resources also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Medusa Mining, dropping 6.85 per cent to close at $1.70. Shares in Evolution Mining and Buru Energy also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,309 an ounce. Light crude is $0.08 up at $US100.91 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 93.76 US cents.