Australian Stock Market Report – Afternoon 3/11/14

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(5pm AEDT)

The Australian share market closed flat on Tuesday, despite another big fall in the iron ore price. The commodity plunged nine per cent to close below US$105 / dry tonne within the last session. However our mining players managed to brush off the big drop after falling heavily during yesterday's trade. A gain in financial stocks helped the market close steady, with the All Ords down just one point to 5429.3.

Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) fell more than nine per cent during Monday's session and today lost a further 1.8 per cent today to $4.83. BHP Billiton (BHP) fared better, down just 0.6 per cent to $35.93 while Rio Tinto (RIO) gained slightly to finish at $61.22. 

Elsewhere the financial sector was well supported, up 0.7 per cent and Telstra (TLS) rose almost one per cent to $5.08.

In company news, David Jones (DJS) new Chair Gordon Cairns announced late in the session that CEO Paul Zahra had re-signed with the company and would not be leaving as flagged last October. DJS shares fell 0.9 per cent to $3.35.

Rare earth miner Lynas (LYC) tumbled 8.5 per cent to 27c after the company widened its first half loss to $59.3 million. Higher costs associated with its Malaysian refinery contributed to the result. The miner announced plans to raise more cash through an equity issue or a debt restructure which was not well received by the market.

Woolworths (WOW) has thrown SPC Ardmona a $70 million lifeline in a five year deal which will see SPC provide fruit and canned goods to the retailer. SPC Ardmona parent company Coca-Cola Amatil (CCL) fell 0.9 per cent to $11.27 today while WOW was slightly lower at $36.64.

In economic news, the NAB business confidence index fell from +8.6 points to +7.3 points in February. The business conditions index weakened from +5.1 points to 0 points. 

The number of people coming to Australia for holidays or business fell by 2.7 per cent in January after rising by 7.1 per cent in December. Arrivals are up 10.7 per cent on a year ago, the biggest gain in three and a half years.

On the market, 2.1 billion shares changed hands worth $5.9 billion. 401 were up, 551 were down and 366 were unchanged.

At 4.30pm AEDT the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5414, down 6 points.

Ahead tonight, weekly chain store sales data is released with wholesale inventories and sales in the US.

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