The Australian share market ended flat, having recovered from early losses, as instability caused by Japan’s earthquake and nuclear crisis continued to weigh on the bourse.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 2.9 points lower at 4555.3, while the broader All Ordinaries index was 5.6 points down at 4638.4.
On the ASX 24, the June share price index futures contract was 28 points lower at 4556, with 57,809 contracts traded at 1634 AEDT.
The S&P/ASX200 index is at its lowest since early September last year.
The Australian bourse delivered a resilient and confident performance after the Dow Jones index in the US suffered its biggest drop in more than seven months overnight, Austock Securities senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said.
“Over the course of day, we actually got into the green as it should be really,” he said.
“The natural disaster (in Japan) has some positives down the track, which should be beneficial for stocks like BHP and Rio supplying materials Japan is going to need to rebuild.
“One of the standouts today was Telstra, which were up two per cent … it is paying a dividend of over 10 per cent fully franked and some people have seen in the whites of their eyes, excellent dividend return on limited risk.”
Telstra closed up five cents at $2.65 after falling to $2.57, close to its lowest yet price.
The best ASX 100 performer was department store operator Myer Holdings Ltd, despite it saying the retail environment was challenging and it expects a lower net profit for the full financial year.
Myer shares were up 12 cents, or 3.87 per cent, at $3.22
The worst ASX 100 performer was uranium stock Paladin Energy, which reversed its effort as the top performer on Wednesday.
Uranium-exposed stocks plunged again amid concerns about the nuclear crisis in Japan, with Paladin Energy losing 9.46 per cent, or 35 cents, to $3.35.
Energy Resources down 48 cents or 6.15 per cent, at $7.32 and Extract Resources lost $1.96, or 23.17 per cent at $6.50.
A Russian uranium miner dumped a recommended $1.16 billion takeover bid for uranium explorer Mantra Resources Ltd, whose shares dived by $1.84, or 27.5 per cent, to $4.85.
In market news, Sundance Resources Ltd shares were boosted by a more than two-fold increase in high-grade iron ore resources at its multi-billion-dollar Mbalam project in West Africa.
Its shares shot up by four cents, or 9.3 per cent, to 47 cents.
Rio Tinto was up 26 cents at $79.20 and BHP Billiton climbed 13 cents to $43.70.
Banking stocks fell, with Westpac down 12 cents at $22.34, ANZ losing 17 cents at $22.45, and National Australia Bank was seven cents lower at $24.28.
Commonwealth Bank lost 25 cents to $49.75.
New Zealand’s Fletcher Building declared its $700 million takeover offer for plumbing and building supplies firm Crane Group unconditional and waived the 90 per cent minimum acceptance condition.
Fletcher shares were down one cent at $6.43, while Crane shares rose two cents to $9.87.
The spot price of gold in Sydney was $1393.55 per fine ounce, down $US4.95 from Wednesday’s closing price of $US1,398.50.
National turnover was 3.79 billion shares changing hands worth $9.24 billion, with 426 stocks up, 705 down and 358 unchanged.