Staying in the black

MINING companies continued to tread water as patchy metals pricing seemed to anchor the otherwise positive sector while the broader market climbed

Justin Niessner

The S&P/ASX 200 index hit its highest mark of the month today, scraping as high as 5541 points before closing 0.3% above yesterday’s close at 5527.

The performance featured another restrained showing by the mining industry, with the basic materials sector only budging 0.3% higher on the session and government numbers reinforcing some depressed sentiment.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics today identified the mining and manufacturing sectors as leading a national decline in pre-tax earnings and profits in 2012-13.

Mining operating profit before tax declined 34.3% over the year while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell 23.5%.

Rio Tinto, however, managed a 0.3% gain on the day to $A61.40 and BHP Billiton added 0.3% to $37.99.

Iron ore companies were mostly subdued as the commodity’s spot price seemed to stabilise just above $US98 per tonne, although Australasian Resources offered a standout performance in the sector, with a 25% rise to A2.5c.

Gold was perhaps the most dramatically affected corner of the mining industry, as the price of the precious metal ticked down to $US1264 per ounce on dwindling haven support from Ukraine-focused investors.

Yellow metal players charting double-digit losses on the day included Ramelius Resources, Enterprise Metals, Renaissance Minerals, Mutiny Gold, Manas Resources and Metaliko Resources, which fell 20% to A2c.

Resources and Investment, meanwhile, soared 57.1% to 16.5c on high-grade copper-gold sampling at the Cheroona project in Western Australia.

Elsewhere, Stratum Metals fell 38.1% to 1.3c and Audalia Resources lost 16.7% to 12.5c.

The Australian dollar was last trading at US92.65c.