Buoyed by positive leads the Australian share market jumped at open and gained momentum throughout the day to close at session highs, more than 1 per cent stronger. The miners drove gains as upbeat local economic news pushed the Australian dollar higher and speculation circled that global central banks could be preparing for more stimulus measures.
The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 45 points to finish at 4,172. On the futures market the SPI is now 43 points stronger.
The latest figures on retail sales in Australia have risen by more than double the amount expected. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported retail spending increased 0.5 per cent to $21.3 billion in May after rising 0.1 per cent the month before.
Australia's services sector contracted at a slower pace last month. The Australian Industry Group and Commonwealth Bank Performance of Services Index showed a rise of 5.3 points to 48.8 in June. The read below 50 indicates a contraction in activity.
Retail Food Group Limited’s (ASX:RFG) Brumby's Bakery chain has hit the headlines after its Managing Director suggested franchisees raise prices and blame the carbon tax. Australia’s corporate regulator says it is investigating the comments, published in an internal newsletter, and has again today warned businesses not to take advantage of the carbon tax by hiking prices unjustly. Responding to the heated headlines, the company issued a statement claiming the comments are not representative of the companies policies or practices and were innocent albeit foolish and ill-considered remarks. Shares in Retail Food Group rose 4.23 per cent today, finishing at $2.71.
James Packer’s Crown Limited (ASX:CWN) is moving in on Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP) with its eyes on a bigger stake in the operator of Sydney's Star Casino. Regulators are now understood to be considering Crown’s proposal to boost its interest in Echo to as much as 25 per cent. Wealth manager Perpetual Limited (ASX:PPT) yesterday received the green light from regulators to boost its potential voting power in Echo to 15 per cent. Shares in Echo Entertainment Group lifted 0.7 per cent today, closing at $4.33.
Energy company Origin Energy Limited (ASX:ORG) and its joint venture partners in the $23 billion Australia Pacific liquefied natural gas project have approved a final investment decision on the second development stage of the project.
Macquarie Group Limited (ASX:MQG) has refused to comment on reports that emerged today linking the investment bank to EB Private Equity’s withdrawn $1.65 billion takeover bid for retailer David Jones Limited (ASX:DJS).
Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (ASX:VAH) has trumped rival airline Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN) and announced it carried more domestic passengers in a 12 month period that has seen Qantas shift passengers to its budget arm, Jetstar.
Shares in Nexus Energy Limited (ASX:NXS) jumped after the oil and gas explorer finalised an agreement to advance the Crux gas venture with Royal Dutch Shell and Osaka Gas.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Materials adding 242 points to close at 9,813. The worst performing sector was Telco Services, losing 3 points to close at 1,274 points.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Coalspur Mines Limited (ASX:CPL), rising 12.8 per cent to close at $0.70. Shares in Ramelius Resources Limited (ASX:RMS) and Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Macmahon Holdings Limited (ASX:MAH), dropping 3.33 per cent to close at $0.58. Shares in GrainCorp Limited (ASX:GNC) and ResMed Inc (ASX:RMD) also closed lower.
Bannon Limited (ASX:BNX) started trading today with an issue price, opening price and closing price of $0.20.
Gold is trading at $US1,618 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.61 down at $U87.05 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.029.