(IBTimes) - MARKET CLOSE
The Australian sharemarket rose for the third consecutive day
today, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) edging higher by 0.2
pct or 7.5 pts to 4504.8. The XAO is one of the most popular ways
to measure Aussie market performance. The index is comprised of
the 500 largest listed companies locally, which make up over 95
pct of the Australian market. We hit the high of the day around
the open, with shares up more 0.35 pct and shares were at their
worst at midday.
Australia's third largest bank by market capitalisation
(number of shares on issue multiplied by the current share
price), ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) reported a 10 pct rise in first
half net (October 2011 to March 31 this year) of $2.92 billion.
This was largely in-line with market expectations. The bank's
margins for its Australian business have been declining.
ANZ makes its monthly decision on interest rates on the second
Friday of each month and passes on rate cuts on the following
Friday. It was the worst performer of the major banks today and
fell 0.79 pct or 19 cents to $23.80. The other three major banks
eased by between 0.3 pct and 0.6 pct. Westpac (
), the second largest bank will issue its results tomorrow. The
market is expecting a $3.1 billion profit from the bank.
One of the best performing stocks today was Stockland Group
(SGP). Yesterday, the property developer said it is on track to
meet its recent profit guidance for this financial year and
received a broker upgrade today. SGP shares rose by a touch over
4 pct today to $3.25.
Discount retailer, JB Hi-Fi (JBH) was one of the worst
performing companies today, with its share price slumping by 4.12
pct or 41 cents to $9.54. Yesterday, its shares rose strongly
following the RBA's bigger than expected rate cut of 0.5 pct (50
bps). Rate cuts increase the likelihood that mortgage holders
would have a few extra dollars in their back pockets to spend on
retail goods. However, JBH received a broker downgrade today and
a reduction in share price targets for the next 12 months.
A number of Annual General Meetings (AGMs) took place today,
with Woodside Petroleum (WPL) one of the highest profile
companies to meet with shareholders. Its Chief Executive, Peter
Coleman today said that the oil and gas producer has held talks
with a number of potential investors looking at buying Shell's 23
pct stake in WPL. Six months ago, Shell reduced its stake in the
company by 10 pct to 24 pct. WPL itself is unlikely to buy back
the interest, indicating that it is not the best option for the
company. WPL shares rose 1.27 pct or 46 cents to $36.66.
One of the country's biggest construction companies, Leighton
) was awarded a $604 million contract by the BHP Billiton
Mitsubishi Alliance (
), for work in Central Queensland. LEI shares jumped 0.98 pct or
20 cents to $20.53.
In China yesterday, the latest official manufacturing reading
was released and showed improving conditions in China's
manufacturing industry. Today HSBC released its report which
showed that its manufacturing sector is in a slightly better
place now than a month ago.
Almost all markets in Asia were closed yesterday due to the
Labour Day public holiday, however were open for trade today.
Shares in Taiwan led the charge and gained by 2.33 pct or 175.09
pts to 7676.81. China's Shanghai Composite Index ended 1.76 pct
higher while Hong Kong's Hang Seng also performed impressively
after gaining 1.27 pct. Shares in Japan only edged higher by a
modest 0.31 pct.
Tonight in Europe, the Eurozone's latest jobless rate will be
announced and is expected to rise from 10.8 pct to 10.9 pct. Just
five years ago, the jobless rate in Europe was sitting at just
7.2 pct (close to 4 pct lower than today). The European Finance
Ministers will be meeting for the ECOFIN meetings tonight (The
Economic and Financial Affairs Council). These meetings are
usually held in Brussels and attended by representatives from all
27 European Union (
) member states.
In the U.S tonight, a report on the change in private sector
employment will be issued at 10.15pm (AEST). The more important
official government figures will be released on Friday night and
tend to have a more significant impact on global markets. The
latest report on the number of factory orders last month will
also be out at midnight and is expected to show a 1.5 pct decline
Volume of shares traded came in at 2.16 billion today, worth
$4.74 billion. 514 shares were up, 498 were weaker and 406 ended
At 4.30pm AEST on the Sydney Futures Exchange, the ASX24
futures contract is down 0.11 pct or 5 pts to 4424.
Due to daylight savings, most major European markets are now
trading between 5pm (AEST) and 1.30am (AEST). Futures in the U.K
are pointing to a slightly stronger start to trade tonight.
Dow Futures are currently a touch higher, indicating that U.S
stocks could open in the black tonight. Due to daylight savings
taking place in the second week of March in North America and the
end of daylight savings in Australia, U.S markets will now be
trading between 11.30pm (AEST) and 6am (AEST).
Turning to currencies, the Australian dollar (
) is higher against most currencies and buys US103.3 cents. The
AUD is currently trading at £63.8 pence and €78.4 cents.
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