EVENING REPORT (4.30pm AEST)
The Australian sharemarket kicked off the week a touch lower, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) down 0.2 per cent; remaining modestly above the 5400pt mark. Tomb sweeping day in China is being observed today, resulting in the closure of China's markets. Last week, the XAO rose by close to 1 per cent, making it the third straight week of improvements.
The major mining stocks were mostly firmer, with gold producer Newcrest Mining (NCM) up 3.8 per cent. NCM slumped by 13 per cent in March however. Australia's second biggest miner, Rio Tinto (RIO) edged higher by 0.3 per cent while Fortescue Metals (FMG) and BHP Billiton (BHP) were largely unchanged late in trade. BHP improved for six straight days, with its shares up 3.5 per cent so far in April. Three of the four major banks ended in the red, with the exception of ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) which rose by a modest 0.3 per cent.
Retirement village developer, Aveo Group (AOG) finished close to 2 per cent firmer today as it reaffirmed its previous guidance for FY14's underlying profit. It expects 2014 to be an improvement on last year. It is maintaining its strategy to exit its non-retirement assets. Despite recording negligible moves so far this calendar year, AGO surged by 109 per cent in 2013.
A number of relatively large firms trading ex-dividend today, including Harvey Norman (HVN), Nufarm (NUF) and SDI. HVN will be paying out a $0.06/share dividend to eligible shareholders on 5th May. NUF will pay out a $0.03/share dividend on 9th may and SDI pays out a $0.002 dividend on 2nd May. All three distributions are 100% franked. HVN slumped by 3.66 per cent.
Wesfarmers (WES) jumped by 1.2 per cent today as it announced its decision to sell its insurance broking business for a touch over $1 billion to Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Tourist arrivals to Australia in February rose by 0.1 per cent while departures fell by 1.4 per cent. There were 562,600 short-term visitors to Australia over the month - making it the busiest February on record. Over the year, tourist arrivals have grown at the fastest pace in 13 years. There was a 1.4 per cent jump in job advertisements in Australia in March and petrol prices continue to fall at the pump. Prices should fall even further in the coming weeks as wholesale prices are at four-month lows.
By the close, only 1.64 billion shares were traded, worth just $3.02 billion. 364 stocks rose, 519 ended lower and 395 were flat. Looking ahead tonight is expected to be quiet on the economic front with German industrial production (factory activity) and consumer credit data in the U.S. the highlights.
Tomorrow, China's sharemarket should resume normal trade while the NAB Business Survey results will be issued at 11.30am (AEDT).
More from IBT Markets:
Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox daily