the asx closed little changed friday as investors sold into an opening rally 1472152015

Energy stocks were a firm feature on the ASX as crude prices strengthened

Blue avatar for guest contributors
By :  ,  Financial Analyst

The Australian share market closed the week on a flat note, ahead of a long weekend on many international markets, and taking the cue from the small overnight change on Wall Street.

Banks continued their sell-off in Friday’s trading, though energy stocks helped balance that bearishness.

In market action, a sharp rally in the opening hour of trade proved stillborn when investors used the opportunity to unload stocks, thereby pushing the S&P/ASX 200 into negative territory shortly after noon. The index moved sideways for the rest of the session.

Indices and sectors

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 on Friday rose 2.4 points, or 0.0 per cent, and closed at 5,664.7, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 4.6 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,668.2.

The top gaining sectors were energy (+1.83 per cent), real estate investment trusts (+1.12 per cent), utilities (+0.75 per cent) and industrials (+0.56 per cent). The biggest losing sectors were healthcare (-0.40 per cent), consumer staples (-0.32 per cent), information technology (-0.26 per cent) and financials (-0.13 per cent).


In mining stocks, BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) gained 0.03 per cent to AU$29.25, Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) slipped 0.26 per cent to AU$56.75 and Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) fell 0.47 per cent to AU$2.11. While Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX) was unchanged at AU$0.235, BC Iron Limited (ASX:BCI) plunged 6.90 per cent to AU$0.405.

Energy stocks closed with gains across the board following a rise in global crude prices. Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX:WPL) shot up 2.38 per cent to AU$35.70, Origin Energy Ltd (ASX:ORG) was higher by 1.75 per cent at AU$12.80, Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH) gained 2.44 per cent to AU$7.57 and Santos Ltd (ASX:STO) was up 2.28 per cent to AU$8.09.

The large banks continued to suffer at the hands of investors. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) shed 0.54 per cent at AU$83.11, Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC) fell 0.28 per cent to AU$32.56, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) was down 0.53 per cent at AU$32.05 and National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX:NAB) fell 0.45 per cent to AU$33.23.

Amongst retailers, Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX:WES), the owner of supermarket chain Coles, closed 0.07 per cent up at AU$43.33, Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) fell 0.63 per cent to AU$28.18, Caltex Australia Limited (ASX:CTX) was unchanged at AU$33.75 and Myer Holdings Ltd (ASX:MYR) shot up 1.03 per cent to AU$1.47.

Airline Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd (ASX:VAH) shot up 6.38 per cent to AU$0.500 while rival Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN) plunged 2.82 per cent to AU$3.45.

According to a report in The Courier-Mail, an unknown buyer scooped up a 10 per cent stake in Cardno Limited (ASX:CDD) on Friday. The company said that in pre market action, 16 million shares, or 9.65 per cent of the company were traded and that it had no communication from the party concerned. Cardno’s acting CEO Graham Yerbury said the share swoop had been made “at a point we have been marked down”. “It feels to me to be somewhat opportunistic,” he told The Courier-Mail. “We’re absolutely committed to getting the business on track,” he said. Cardno Limited (ASX:CDD) was the top gainer on the S&P/ASX 200, closing up 19.07 per cent at AU$2.81.

Economic news, currency and insight

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday that the federal government had decided not to hold a parliamentary inquiry into the iron ore industry, believing it would have done “more harm than good.” "We were attracted to an inquiry, no doubt about that,” he said, according to ABC. "We talked to the various people in the sector and came to the conclusion, after the sort of consultation which sensible governments do, that a parliamentary inquiry was going to generate more heat than light. So we've decided not to go ahead with it."

Meanwhile, Barry Fitzgerald, who is chief of Gina Rinehart's WA mine Roy Hill, said Friday that Australia’s share in global mining of iron ore was at risk due to the massive iron ore expansion planned by Brazilian mining giant Vale in collaboration with China. He said Vale’s expansion could flood the iron ore market with an additional 90 million tonnes over the next two years at a cost of approximately AU$11 a tonne, on par with Rio Tinto, Australia’s lowest cost iron ore producer.

Over the weekend, political commentator Laurie Oakes pointed out that "several" applications had recently been lodged with the Foreign Investment Review Board that would affect mining companies, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. The applications "raise the possibility of significant upheaval in the iron ore industry and ownership of sections of it over the next 12 months", Mr. Oakes wrote, referring to proposed investments in Australian iron ore miners by foreign buyers. However, Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) refused to comment on whether it might be a takeover target.

US Fed chair Janet Yellen said Friday that the central bank will most likely raise interest rates this year but will do so taking into account economic data that showed low inflation, a job market that is yet to recover fully and disappointing growth, according to the Wall Street Journal. “I think it will be appropriate at some point this year to take the initial step to raise the federal-funds rate target and begin the process of normalising monetary policy,” Ms. Yellen said in a speech before the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce in Providence, R.I.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower Friday after Yellen’s speech. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 53.72 points, or 0.29 percent, to end at 18,232.02 points. After trading nearly flat for most of the day, the S&P 500 lost 4.76 points, or 0.22 percent, to close the week at 2,126.06. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.43 points, or 0.03 percent, to 5,089.36.

The Australian dollar was trading weaker following strength in the US dollar due to strong inflation data, according to Business Spectator. At 06:30 this morning (AEST), the Aussie was trading at 78.26 US cents, down from 79.12 US cents on Friday.

The Australian stock market is likely to open lower today given that the June ASX SPI200 Index (AP) Futures last traded down by 9 points at 5,673.

Related tags:

Open an account today

Experience award-winning platforms with fast and secure execution.

Web Trader platform

Our sophisticated web-based platform is packed with features.
Economic Calendar