Australian Stock Market Report – Afternoon 5/16/14

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By Tom Piotrowski, CommSec Market Analyst | May 16, 2014 6:12 PM EST

AFTERNOON REPORT

Local stocks were under sustained pressure on Friday with the ASX 200 ending the session at the lows of the day. One small consolation was the low level of participation with just over $ 3.8bln shares changing hands.

Few sectors were spared the attention of sellers, the utilities and property sectors were on only 2 groups to end higher albeit by the smallest of margins. Mining stocks were amongst the hardest hit after commodity prices fell in the last day. Numerous factors have been sited as catalysts for negative sentiment around China that is weighing on investor thinking, including the prospects for the Chinese economy after Chinese banks revealed that they had experienced the largest quarterly increase in non-performing loans since 2005 in 1Q14. 

GPT Group (GPT)shares stood out by ending the session higher in a falling market. The group announced earlier that its GPT Wholesale Office Fund had purchased a 50 per cent interest in Number 2 Southbank Boulevard in Melbourne for $196.7 million. The transaction is the third in a number of acquisitions from the Commonwealth Property Office Fund that has totalled $548.4 million. GPT shares ended with a gain of 0.26 per cent to $3.85.

Leightons Holdings (LEI) announced that its subsidiary John Holland has won a $100 million contract to build mine infrastructure for Rio Tinto in Western Australia´s Pilbara region. The group said that the year-long project is planned to start later in May and will employ 200 workers at the peak of the contract. At the same time Leighton said that it had agreed to pay $69.45 million to settle a shareholders dispute. Notwithstanding the settlement, LEI maintains it did not mislead investors. The money will compensate investors who claim Leighton failed to disclose problems on some of its key infrastructure projects. LEI shares ended the session down by 1.7 %

Santos (STO)was another standout in a falling market, the Gas producer said today that the first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the $20.5 billion Papua Guinea LNG project will soon leave for Japan.LNG production has started early on the large-scale project in which Australian companies Oil Search and Santos are partners alongside project operator Exxon Mobil. Additionally, Chief executive David Knox said GLNG in Queensland was now 80 per cent complete and on track and on budget to deliver first gas in 2015. STO ended the day at $14.34, a gain of 5 cents or 0.35%, OSH closed at $9.20 a gain of 2 cents or 0.22 per cent.

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