Share market makes gains despite pressure piling up on banks, Arrium in trouble

The Australian share market has made modest gains, with a sell-off in the banking sector offsetting gains in energy and resources stocks.

The All Ordinaries Index closed 24 points higher at 5,024, while the ASX-200 gained slightly less to 4,945.

Three of the big four banks were in the red.

The Commonwealth Bank lost 10 cents to $71.15 and the National Australia Bank lost six cents to $25.50.

Meanwhile it was a big day for Westpac, with the Prime Minister attending a lunch to celebrate its 199th anniversary.

But instead of singing Happy Birthday, Malcolm Turnbull gave a speech — telling the banking sector to clean up its act.

"The truth is that despite the public support offered at their time of need our bankers have not always treated their customers as they should," Mr Turnbull said.

And to make the event even more awkward, the birthday lunch was just a day after ASIC charged Westpac with rigging interest rates for interbank lending.

Westpac chief Brian Hartzer said this afternoon that ASIC had got it wrong, and the bank was looking forward to its day in court.

Westpac lost 45 cents to $28.68, while ANZ Bank, also fighting similar allegations, of rate rigging gained eight cents to $22.55.

Arrium in trouble and could go into administration

The other big news today was the steel and iron ore firm Arrium, whose shares went into a trading halt this morning when priced at just over two cents.

The company's future appears to be in the hands of its lenders, with talk it will go into voluntary administration and its Whyalla steelworks in South Australia will be forced to close.

In commodities, West Texas Crude Oil has lost ground this week, at US$34.29 a barrel.

Iron Ore is flat, priced at US$54 a tonne and gold is weaker at US$1026 an ounce.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is buying 75.58 US cents.

Source: ABC News

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