Share market makes modest gains as investors wait for Brexit vote

The share market has made modest gains as investors sat on the sidelines just before Britons began voting on whether to leave the European Union.

The ASX 200 index gained 0.2 per cent to finish on 5,281 and the All Ordinaries Index added 9 points to finish on 5,359.

Trading volumes were very light, with investors reluctant to make any big bets before the outcome of the vote is announced.

Mining stocks had the biggest gains — Fortescue Metals led the way, up 8.3 per cent to $3.53 as investors welcomed news it had paid down $500 million in debt.

Energy stocks also advanced led by Whitehaven Coal, which finished up 10.3 per cent at $1.12.

In financial stocks, ASIC has launched legal action against Macquarie Group for failing to properly manage a fund that invested $30 million into a Cayman Islands-based fund in 2012.

Macquarie has admitted to five breaches of the Corporations Act. The $30 million has been repaid to investors.

Macquarie Group closed 0.6 per cent higher at $76.58, while the big four banks finished mostly lower.

ANZ was the only one to advance, adding a 0.2 per cent to $24.44.

Shares in Macmahon Holdings are in a trading halt after gunmen ambushed a convoy of the mining company's workers in Nigeria.

The attackers have killed a Nigerian driver have taken seven hostages, including three Australians.

Telstra lost 0.7 per cent to $5.34 as it announced it had completed the sale of its stake in the Chinese car website Autohome to a Chinese insurance firm.

It has also bought the network firm CBO Telecommunications for an undisclosed amount to create a mining technology business.

Investors have punished the employment website Seek for announcing plans to pay $182 million to buy out its Brazilian business and increase its majority stake in Seek Asia.

Seek shares closed down 5.4 per cent at $15.32.

About 5:00pm AEST, the Australian dollar was buying 75.3 US cents, 66.4 euro cents, 78.6 Japanese yen and 51 British pence.

In commodities, oil prices are higher — Brent crude is fetching $US50 a barrel, spot gold is also slightly higher and was trading at around $US1,268 an ounce.

Source: ABC News

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