CommSec Evening Report (17:30 AEDT)
Gains for the ASX 200 faded over the course of the afternoon. At the best levels of the session the index was ahead by 32 points, at the lows of the day the market was down by 1 point. At the closing bell the bourse ended with its nose in front by just over 5 points. Participation was lower than average with less than $4bln shares changing hands.
The balance between sectors ending higher and lower was evenly balanced in the end. Financials were the ballast for the market, keeping the index in the black. Healthcare stocks were the worst performing group. Retailers dominated market chatter after profit downgrades from Pacific Brands (PBG) whose shares ended at 51 cents for a loss of 5 cents or 8.9 %. PBG sells work wear and sports clothing, said it expected earnings in the year to June to be between $90 million and $93 million. Its previous guidance, in February, was for profit of A$105 million. The Reject Shop, whose shares ended at $8.05 cents, a loss of $1.10 or 12% expects its net profit in the year to June 30 to be between $14.5 million and $15.5 million, below its previous forecast of between $17 million and $18 million. The question on the minds of investors is; who's next? As a result most names were seized upon by nervous investors. Central to the atmospherics in the sector will be data on consumer confidence on Wednesday and Thursday's jobs data. Weaker readings here will obviously create further headwinds for the group.
Adding some anxiety ahead of the jobs report was the ANZ Job advertisements survey which declined sharply in May, marking the first fall in five months. Job ads for May were down 5.6 per cent from a 2.2 per cent rise in April and 1.4 per cent in March, ANZ's monthly survey of job advertising in newspapers and online found. The ebbing of confidence and job advertising was once again seen through the prism of the federal budget.
Rounding out a day of mixed news was The NAB business confidence index rose from +6.5 points to +6.9 points in May. The business conditions index eased from +0.2 points to -0.7 points. The index of trading conditions weakened from +3.1 points to +1.6 points; employment weakened from +0.2 points to -0.1 points; profitability weakened from -1.7 points to -2.2 points; but forward orders improved from -5.5 points to 0.0 points. The data result was better than expected in the aftermath of the budget indicating businesses had taken the result in their stride.
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