Miners afloat on flat market

MINING companies continued to edge mostly higher today as the broader market closed relatively flat.

Justin Niessner

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down only 0.04% to 5308 points today as the Australian Securities Exchange attributed higher half-year profits to improved global economic conditions and a lift in listings activities.

“All major ASX business lines increased revenue year on year for the first time since the global financial crisis – that is, since the end of the 2008 financial year,” ASX managing director and chief executive Elmer Kupper said.

Mining companies showed some positive but decelerated traction over the session, with the basic materials sector gaining 0.2%.

BHP Billiton improved 0.3% to $A37.32, while Rio Tinto closed 0.4% lower at $67.83 ahead of publication of full-year results.

Trading coincided with a number of economic indicators from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, including a report marking a 6% increase in the unemployment rate over January.

The ABS also recorded a 77% slide over FY13 in new capital committed to Australian venture capital and later-stage private equity funds.

Resource companies, nevertheless, remained in mostly positive territory, with gold companies continuing to benefit from momentum in the price of the yellow metal, last trading at about $US1290 per ounce.

West African Resources was conspicuous, with a 13.6% jump to A12.5c after posting encouraging drill results from its Boulsa gold project in Burkina Faso, while Orion Gold rose 34.3% to 9.4c.

Iron ore players were more subdued, with notable losses coming from Vector Resources (down 24.1% to 2.2c) and Sundance Resources (down 9.1% to 10c).

Other standouts around the mining sector included Crossland Strategic Metals, which gained 75% to 1.4c as well as Tasman Resources, Pluton Resources and Anglo Australian Resources, all recording double-digit gains.

Regis Resources requested a trading halt, saying it expected to release an update by Monday on the impact of a weather event on its Duketon gold project in Western Australia.