EVENING REPORT (5pm AEST)
The Australian share market continued its good run during the month of May, rising 0.3 per cent today to close near 2014 highs. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) was higher by 16 points to 5506.7 while the ASX 200 (XJO) was up 15.5 points to 5527.
A strong offshore gain helped investor sentiment with most sectors closing higher. The consumer staples sector was lower, down 0.8 per cent while property trusts finished 0.7 per cent lower.
Newcrest Mining (NCM) shares finished lower by 4.2 per cent to $9.82 after gold fell to a three and a half year low in New York trade.
Meanwhile Woolworths (WOW) and Wesfarmers (WES) weighed on the consumer staples sector. WOW fell 1.2 per cent to $37.45 as the company announced plans to divest part of its property portfolio which could see it sell its pubs and liquor stores. Wesfarmers fell 0.6 per cent to $43.26 as it told an investor strategy day that the near-term outlook for its coal portfolio looks challenging.
Retailer Noni B (NBL) closed down 1.3 per cent to 38c, coming off earlier lows as the clothing company announced plans to write down about $5.5 million after reporting a 14 per cent drop in sales in the three months to March. NBL is now forecasting a FY after tax loss of between $1.8 to $2.2 million.
Stockland Group (SGP) rose 0.3 per cent to $3.88 as it announced a sweetened takeover bid for property developer Australand (ALZ). The new sware shop offer values ALZ at $4.35 each per share in a $2.5 billion deal which also includes a $250 million cash component.
In economic news, private sector construction work rose by 2.0 per cent in the March quarter to record highs. Overall construction work done rose by 0.3 per cent. Residential building work done soared by 6.8 per cent while commercial work fell by 1.5 per cent and engineering work eased by 1.6 per cent.
On the market overall, a total of 1.7 billion shares changed hands, worth $3.9 billion. 498 were up, 435 were down and 399 were unchanged.
At 4.30pm AEST the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5537, up 10 points.
The Australian dollar ended the session at US92.64c.
Ahead tonight, consumer confidence readings for the Eurozone and Germany are released.
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