EVENING REPORT (5pm AEDT)
Local stocks gained a little ground in afternoon trade and managed to finish off the day's lows, although still in the red. Following weakness on offshore markets overnight, the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) closed lower by 27.5 points or 0.5 per cent to 5359.7.
Every sector except the energy players finished in negative territory. The S&P/ASX 200 Energy sector was up 0.2 per cent on the close, with Oil Search (OSH) up 1.6 per cent following a rise in the Nymex contract.
The gold price continued to ease, falling to a near six week low. Shares in Newcrest Mining (NCM) fell 3.3 per cent to $9.68. The big miners gave back most of yesterday's gains.
Lynas Corp (LYC) rose 25 per cent today to 22.5c. The company was forced to respond to an ASX pricing query, but stated it was not aware of any reasons behind recent big swings in its share price. Yesterday, LYC fell 10 per cent. The rare earths miner also today forecast stronger 3Q sales.
Sigma Pharmaceuticals (SIP) added 1.6 per cent to 64c after reporting solid full year numbers. Revenue rose 1.1 per cent to $2.7 billion, while a final dividend of 2c per share was declared.
Qantas (QAN) rose 1.9 per cent today to $1.075. A leaked memo was printed in Fairfax papers today, citing 26 management jobs will go over the coming months as the airline attempts to return to profitability. 5000 job losses were flagged in February when QAN reported a massive loss.
In economic news, total household wealth (net worth) stood at a record $7,531.8 billion at the end of December, up $253.7 billion over the quarter - the biggest quarterly rise in four years. In per capita terms, wealth rose to a record $322,757 in the December quarter, up $9,529 over the quarter.
On the market overall, a total of 1.7 billion shares changed hands, worth $4.5 billion. 352 shares were higher, 552 were lower and 371 closed unchanged.
At 4.15pm AEDT the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5353, down 17 points.
The Australian dollar continued its resilience, rising to a fresh 2014 high. At 4.30pm AEDT the Aussie was worth US92.38c.
Ahead tonight, pending home sales are released in the US. The final reading on December quarter economic growth is also due.
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