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Market Update

Lower Commodity Prices Keep Australia’s Gains in Check

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 8:36 AM ET November 18 2015

5:30 PM Sydney, Australia – ASX 200 Index closed little changed after lower commodity prices weighed on resource stocks, while coal-fired electricity faces reduced government funding due to climate change concerns. Orica reported yearly net loss of $1.4 billion.

Stock indexes in Sydney closed slightly higher as gains in IT, utilities, finance, and industrials, offset the weakness in mining and energy companies.

Resource stocks were hammered after commodity prices declined and a reduction in state funding.

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull agreed to reduce the funding for dirty coal-fired electricity due to climate change concerns.

Commodity prices declined as the price of iron ore slipped to a four-month low of $45.58 per ton.

In Sydney, BHP Billiton dropped 3% and Rio Tinto slumped 2.2% while Fortescue Metals, the third-largest iron ore producer, fell 2.9%.

Orica reported annual net loss of $1.40 billion and SG Fleet Group surged after announcing the acquisition of vehicle procurement specialist NLC Pty Ltd for about $200 million.

The Australian dollar eased to 70.98 U.S. cents, while in stock trading turnover was 707 million shares worth $4.7 billion.

At the close, the ASX 200 Index rose 14.90 or 0.3% to 5,133.10 and the broader All Ordinaries Index increased 14.80 to 5,189.10.

In commodities trading, gold plunged US$13 to US$1,069 an ounce and Brent crude future for immediate month delivery added 32 cents to US$43.89 a barrel.

Australian Stock Movers

Growthpoint Properties Australia Ltd fell 0.83% to $3.02 after the property developer agreed to acquire the site of 1.11 hectares in south-east of Melbourne for about $50 million.

Orica Ltd jumped 2.3% to $15.97 despite announcing a huge loss for the year ending in September and cancelling its share buyback program.

The explosives and blasting systems provider reported revenues in the year ending in September declined 9.9% from a year ago to $5.65 billion.

Net in the year swung to a loss of $1.40 billion compared to profit of $626 million and diluted loss per share swung to a 342.3 cents from diluted earnings per share of 163.4 cents in the same period a year ago.

Alberto Calderon, the recently appointed CEO, expects improvement in EBIT in fiscal 2016 and 2017 because of medium-term global commodity forecasts for volume growth and Orica’s action to strengthen its contract profile.

The company will pay a dividend $0.56 per share, in line with the prior year’s distribution.

SG Fleet Group Limited surged 24.7% to $3.38 after the vehicle leasing services provider agreed to acquire vehicle procurement specialist NLC Pty Ltd for about $200 million.

Sims Metal Management Ltd gained 0.5% to $7.23 after the metals and electronics recycler said it plans to buy back up to 10% of the issued capital for as much as $147 million.

Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc