Australian Stock Market Report – Afternoon 5/21/14

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By Juliette Saly, CommSec Market Analyst | May 21, 2014 5:06 PM EST

EVENING REPORT
(5pm AEST)

Despite predictions of a 0.6 per cent fall on our market today and a shaky start, local stocks managed to close flat. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) added 2.2 points or 0.04 per cent by the close to finish at 5403.9 points, supported by gains in energy stocks and defensive player Telstra (TLS).

Telstra continued its recent good run, rising 1.1 per cent to $5.36, a nine year high. The telco is being supported by strong demand for its dividend payments, the announcement of a $100 million national Wi-Fi network and the fact it continues to win market share. Competitor Vodafone Hutchison Australia lost over a million subscribers in the past 12 months according to a Fairfax report and now has fewer than 5 million users in the country.

The iron ore price slumped again overnight to its lowest level since September 2012, to US$97.50 a dry tonne. Iron ore miners Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) were all sold off today.

Network Ten (TEN) announced it was scrapping its early and late news bulletins as well as its breakfast program Wake Up!. It's understood the programming decision will force 150 workers to take voluntary redundancies. TEN shares fell 1.8 per cent to 27.5 cents.

Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), the owner of brands such as Penfold's and Lindeman's wines, continued to rise after rejecting a $3 billion takeover offer from US private equity firm KKR. KKR wants to see TWE's books before deciding whether to raise it $4.70 per share cash bid. TWE rose 5.6 per cent to $5.07.

In economic news, the Westpac/Melbourne Institute index of consumer confidence fell by 6.8 per cent to 92.9 points in May - a two year low. A reading of 100 is the dividing line separating optimism from pessimism. The survey was conducted between May 12 and May 17 after the Federal Budget was released. Consumer related stocks were mixed today. JB Hi-Fi (JBH) fell 2.8 per cent to $18.64, Kathmandu (KMD) was lower by 4.2 per cent but Myer (MYR) and Woolworths (WOW) rose.

Wages rose by 0.7 per cent in the March quarter. Annual growth of wages remained at a record low of 2.6 per cent (series began in 1997).

For more company and economic news, please read our Early morning and Mid-Session reports.

1.8 billion shares changed hands on our market today, worth $5.2 billion. 369 were up, 538 were down and 389 were unchanged.

At 5pm AEST the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5436, up 6 pts.

Ahead tonight, the FOMC minutes are released in the US.

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