The Australian share market drifted throughout the session to end barely unchanged after the release of Australia’s second quarter growth figures. Gains among the banks and telco, property and industrials sectors were offset by losses among the miners on the back of lower commodity prices. The benchmark was also weighed down by a number of major companies trading ex-dividend including AMP Limited (ASX:AMP)
, BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
, Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Limited (ASX:NEC)
and WorleyParsons Limited (ASX:WOR)
The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 2.4 points today to close at 5,656.
The value of trades was $4.39 billion on volume of 740 million shares at the close of trade.
The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
and Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS)
On the futures market the SPI is 2 points higher.
Australia’s economy slowed less than expected in the second quarter. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports gross domestic product rose 0.5 per cent in the June quarter for an annual rate of 3.1 per cent over the year to June.
Growth in Australia’s services industry remained subdued last month. The Australian Industry Group’s performance of services index firmed 0.1 points to 49.4 in August but remained below 50 which indicates contraction.
Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES)
owned supermarket chain Coles has confirmed it will axe jobs from its Melbourne operations. Coles is expected to cut 378 permanent and 60 contractor positions from its store support centre as part of cost cutting initiatives. Shares in Wesfarmers firmed 0.16 per cent to close at $43.80.
Shares in Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (ASX:API)
climbed after the owner of the Priceline pharmacies brand boosted its annual underlying profit guidance. The company has attributed the improved forecast to strong sales results from its Priceline and Priceline Pharmacy stores, and a solid performance from its Pharmacy Distribution business. Shares in Australian Pharmaceutical Industries climbed 17.09 per cent to close at $0.69.
Shares in Transpacific Industries Group Limited (ASX:TPI)
lifted 1.68 per cent after the waste management group said its services would return to normal after weeks of grounding.
Shares in Noni B Limited (ASX:NBL)
surged 6.67 per cent after the troubled women’s clothing retailer backed a $16.4 million takeover offer from investment company Alceon Group.
Shares in Sigma Pharmaceuticals Limited (ASX:SIP)
slipped 0.6 per cent after the pharmaceutical group extended its wholesale and services agreement with Pharmacy Alliance.
Shares in Lynas Corporation Limited (ASX:LYC)
rose to the best performer after the rare earth producer revealed it has been issued with a full operating stage licence for its Malaysian plant.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was telco services, adding 1 per cent to close at 1,995.
The worst performing sector was materials, losing 1.2 per cent to close at 9,951 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Lynas Corporation Limited (ASX:LYC)
, rising 9.68 per cent to close at $0.17. Shares in Ten Network Holdings Limited (ASX:TEN)
and Bradken Limited (ASX:BKN)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was BC Iron Limited (ASX:BCI)
, dropping 6.12 per cent to close at $2.30. Shares in Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR)
and Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI)
also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,268 an ounce.
Light crude is $3.08 lower at $US92.88 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9296.