The Australian share market fell today as investors cashed in on bank stock profits following recent record highs and annual general meeting season produced more bad news, particularly for the troubled mining services sector.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dipped 17 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 5384.7, with every major sector in the red, despite opening higher off a strong lead from gains in every major market in the United States, Asia and Europe on Friday.
The broader All Ordinaries fell 18.3 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 5377.9.
“At a macro-level we still believe equity markets are rising and that it is a good time to invest in riskier assets such as shares,” Invesco portfolio manager Cynthia Jenkins said.
Falls in three of the big four banks, which are coming off all-time highs earlier this month was a major contributor to the market’s losses.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 0.6 per cent to $ 77.34, while ANZ lost 0.6 per cent to $ 32.10, and Westpac fell 0.4 per cent to $ 32.87.
National Australia Bank bucked the trend, up 0.2 per cent to $ 34.36.
Metals and mining, the best-performing sector, finished flat.
Arrium (formerly OneSteel) was the best-performing stock, climbing 7.9 per cent to $ 1.64, as it reported record quarterly shipments up 94 per cent on the prior corresponding quarter.
BHP Billiton rose 0.2 per cent to $ 37.95. Conditional environmental approvals were secured for a multi-billion dollar floating liquified natural gas joint venture off the coast of Western Australia with ExxonMobil. Rio Tinto also gained 0.2 per cent to $ 65.65, after the spot price for iron ore, landed in China, added 0.2 per cent to $ US136.80 per tonne.
Downer EDI jumped 1.8 per cent at $ 5.21, on news it was awarded a 4.5 year contract to provide services to Hancock Prospecting’s Roy Hill iron ore mine with an estimated value of $ 500 million.
On Monday, heavy mining equipment provider Emeco Holdings rose 2 per cent to 25.5 cents, after issuing its third profit warning in seven months but telling investors it expects conditions to improve in the second half of the financial year.
Leighton Holdings lost 0.2 per cent at $ 16.85, despite news its Asian division and a subsidiary was awarded a $ 329 million contract to build part of a railway in Singapore.
Junior goldminer St Barbara was the worst-performing stock, down 9.7 per cent at 32.5¢ as the commodity spot price dipped 0.2 per cent to $ US1287.24 an ounce.
Rural services group Elders dumped 4.2 per cent to 11.5¢, after posting a full-year statutory loss of more than half a billion dollars, compared to a $ 60.6 million loss a year earlier.
The two players that dominate grocery and liquor retail have entered a new voluntary code of conduct, that will among other things ban the practice of charging suppliers fees for shelf space. Wesfarmers, owner of Coles, fell 0.5 per cent at $ 44.02, while Woolworths added 0.4 per cent at $ 34.10.
Explosives and chemicals manufacturer Orica continued to rise on last week’s better than expected result, adding another 3 per cent to $ 24.10.