QBE bucketing puts a dampener on market

The sharemarket reversed early gains to finish flat on Tuesday, with a slump in insurer QBE erasing early rises fuelled by record highs on Wall Street overnight.

The sharemarket reversed early gains to finish flat on Tuesday, with a slump in insurer QBE erasing early rises fuelled by record highs on Wall Street overnight.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index edged down 0.8 points to 5143.6 as QBE led the falls for the second day in a row. The broader All Ordinaries Index slipped 2.2 points to 5146.2.

A monthly measure of business conditions produced by National Australia Bank rose a point to minus three, indicating the operating environment remains lacklustre. NAB's measure of business confidence dipped a point to five.

At the local close, the dollar was buying US91.03¢, down from US91.04¢ at the previous close.

Among the big banks, NAB was unchanged at $33.17, while the rest of the big four were all higher after Bureau of Statistics figures showed the number of home loans approved in October rose 1 per cent to the highest monthly level on record.

Commonwealth Bank added 0.5 per cent to $75.26, while Westpac gained 0.3 per cent to $31.19, and ANZ rose 0.1 per cent to $30.78. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has appealed a Federal Court decision to dismiss allegations of price fixing against ANZ.

QBE lost another 9.8 per cent to $10.82 after dumping 22.3 per cent the day before, when it emerged from a trading halt to warn it would suffer a $250 million reported net loss for the year.

Embattled Qantas fell 3 per cent to a record closing low of 96.5¢, after hitting an intra-day record low of 95.5¢.

Rio Tinto subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia lost 11.5 per cent to $1.01, as the government put a ban on processing at its Ranger uranium mine. ERA dumped 12.7 per cent on Monday following a containment breach over the weekend.

Australia's biggest oil producer, Woodside Petroleum, added 0.5 per cent to $37.57, as chief executive Peter Coleman said the company had other development options if a planned $US1.25 billion ($1.37 billion) investment in an Israeli gas field, which has been hit by delays, does not go ahead.

Industrials was the best-performing sector, up 0.7 per cent, as Brambles - adjusted for the Recall spin-off - added 4.9 per cent to $8.86. Document management business Recall Holdings rose to $4.50 after debuting at $4.15.

InvestSMART FORUM: Come and meet the team

We're loading up the van and going on tour from April to June, with events on the NSW central & north coast, the QLD mid-north coast and in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. Come and meet the team and take home simple strategies that you can use to build an investment portfolio to weather any storm. Book your spot here.

Want access to our latest research and new buy ideas?

Start a free 15 day trial and gain access to our research, recommendations and market-beating model portfolios.

Sign up for free

Related Articles