EVENING REPORT (5.30pm AEDT)
The Australian share market has started the new trading month in the red, dragged down by weakness in financial and mining players. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) closed lower by 18 points or 0.3 per cent today, after rising four per cent in February.
A better than expected February reporting season lifted the market last month, with 93 per cent of companies which issued Half Year results posting a profit. 69 per cent of companies which reported Half Year results lifted or maintained their dividend payments.
Locally, the situation in Ukraine has rattled commodity markets, lifting oil and gold. The oil price was at US$103.78 a barrel in late afternoon Asian trade, with the energy sector firmer by 1.4 per cent. The gold price rose US$22 an ounce in the Asian session to US$1344 an ounce. Shares in gold miner Newcrest Mining (NCM) gained 5.7 per cent to $11.99 today.
In company news, beverage supplier Coca-Cola Amatil (CCL) announced it will pay former Chief Executive Terry Davis $150,000 per year for three years in exchange for him not working for competitors. His total non-compete clause is worth $2.9 million over three years when short and long term incentives are accounted for. CCL closed steady at $11.30.
In economic news, the RP Data - Rismark Home Value Index reported that capital city home prices were unchanged in February after rising for the prior eight consecutive months. Home prices are up 9.5 per cent over the year.
The TD Securities-Melbourne Institute monthly inflation gauge rose by 0.2 per cent in February to stand 2.7 per cent higher than a year ago.
The Performance of Manufacturing index rose by 1.9 points to 48.6 in February. Any reading below 50 suggests manufacturing is contracting.
1.9 billion shares changed hands today, worth $5.3 billion. 489 were up, 482 were down and 343 were unchanged.
Ahead tonight, personal income, auto sales, construction spending and the ISM manufacturing index are released in the US.
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