4:30 PM Sydney Ė Australian stocks lost early gains on a weakness in bank stocks. Business confidence index declined in October. Seven Group announced additional job cuts. News Corp swung to a quarterly profit.
Australian investors shifted attention to local economic news and banks led the decliners.
A private monthly survey conducted by NAB showed business confidence index declined to +5 from +12 in September.
The decline in business activities may have led businesses to reassess business conditions, NABís Chief Economist Alan Oster said.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported business finance commitments increased in September but personal lending eased.
Total business finance commitments jumped 2.8% to $35.8 million and personal lending commitments fell 0.9% to $7.7 million.
Australian dollar plummeted to 93.35 U.S. cents. In stock trading, turnover slipped to 686 million shares worth $4.08 billion.
The ASX 200 index rose 6 to close at 5,393.10 and the broader All Ordinaries added 6 to 5,386.80.
Stocks in Review
Rio Tinto fell 37 cents to $64.70 and BHP rose 12 cents to $38.03. Woodside Petroleum Limited gained 7 cents to $39.23.
Westpac dropped 27 cents to $32.85.
slipped 1.95% to $13.59 after the Australia-based building products maker requested shareholders vote against $2.2 billion proposal to unwind cross-ownership with Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co Limited.
Incitec Pivot Limited
surged 7.3% to $2.80 after the chemical maker said net profit in the year dropped to $372 million from a year ago, on lower global fertilizer prices.
declined 3.3% to $18.40 after the media company reported revenue in the first-quarter ending in September fell 3% to $2.07 billion.
Net in the quarter swung to a profit $27 million or 5 cents compared to a net loss of $92 million or 16 cents per share a year ago.
The company said revenue from news and information services plunged 10% to $1.5 billion and revenue from Australian newspapers plummeted 22% during the period.
Advertisement revenue in the quarter was nearly flat. Book publishing revenue from HarperCollins business dropped 7% to $328 million.
Seven Group Holdings Limited
dropped 1.56% to $7.59 after the company plans to eliminate 630 jobs at its WesTrac business and the company will take $13 million one-time restructuring charge.
The current job cuts are in addition to the elimination of 375 job cuts announced earlier in the year.
The company estimated full-year operating earnings at the lower end of the earlier guidance of a decline between 30% and 40% from a year ago.
closed unchanged at $1.24 after the power distributor said revenue in the first-half ending in September climbed 8.7% to $961.2 million.
Net profit in the period declined 41% to $98 million and the company lost a court appeal against $87 million tax demand.
The gross EBITDA in the first-half surged 11.3% to $581.8 million.