EVENING REPORT (4.45pm AEST)
The Australian share market closed only modestly lower on Tuesday despite big falls once again on Wall Street overnight. Investors continued to sell out of biotech and technology stocks on fears they are overpriced.
Locally, a rebound in mining players helped lift our market from morning lows, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) closing down by just 7 points or 0.1 per cent to 5409.2 points.
The info tech sector came under pressure however following the falls in the US. Shares in Freelancer (FLN) were down 9.4 per cent to $1.25 while Xero Limited (XRO) closed lower by 9 per cent to $29.20.
Australia has signed a free trade agreement with Japan after close to a decade of negotiations. The government says cheese exporters will gain significant new duty-free access. Shares in Bega Cheese (BGA) were higher by 0.6 per cent to $5.03 today while Australian Agricultural Company (AAC) was firmer by 4.5 per cent to $1.29.
Shares in Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) rose 7.2 per cent to $3.87 as the new CEO Michael Clarke told the Wall Street Journal much needs to be fixed at the company and all options are on the table to improve shareholder value. Mr Clarke also said there is no emotional attachment to any part of the business and that TWE currently operates too many brands.
In economic news, the NAB business confidence index fell from +7.3 points to +4.1 points in March. The business conditions index improved from minus 0.1 points to +0.7 points. The survey was conducted from March 25-30.
The index of exporters' sales rose from +6.3 points to a near 13-year high of +9.5 points in March (highest since June 2001). The successful trade deal with Japan has potential to boost exports even further in coming months.
1.6 billion shares changed hands, worth $3.9 billion. 324 were up, 563 were down and 368 were unchanged.
At 4.30pm AEST the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5404, down 4 points.
In the US, weekly chain store sales data is released. Alcoa kicks off earnings season after the bell.
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