Following strong offshore leads, and a major boost following Greece’s pro-austerity party election victory, the Australian share market surged at the open and continued its strong performance for the rest of the day, closing on its high. Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 80 points to finish at 4,137. On the futures market, the SPI is currently 81 points higher.
Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports sales of new motor vehicles rose 2.4 per cent in May with 91,994 new vehicles being sold, compared to 89,812 in April. In the year to May, new motor vehicle sales rose 22.4 per cent.
The writing is on the wall for Fairfax Media Limited (ASX:FXJ) staff, with 1900 jobs to be lost at the company following a major restructuring announcement today. The media company also plans to close its Chullora and Tullamarine printing presses by June 2014 and start charging for access to some online content by the end of 2012 in the hope of saving the company $235 million over three years. Also today mining magnate Gina Rinehart has confirmed she had upped her stake in Fairfax to 18.6 per cent as she continues to push for a seat on the board. Shares in Fairfax Media closed 7.44 per cent higher at $0.65.
Brewing and dairy manufacturer Lion is set to pounce, after mounting a takeover bid for Perth’s Little World Beverages Limited (ASX:LWB) worth $220 million dollars. The Japanese owned company has reached an agreement with the iconic western Australian company to acquire the remaining 63.7 per cent at $5.30 a share. Shares in Little World Beverages closed 36.15 per cent up at $5.16.
Lynas Corporation Limited (ASX:LYC) shares have been bolstered today following the dismissal of the appeal against the rare earths miner’s operating licence for its Southeast Asian advanced minerals plant.
Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN) has experienced a bumpy ride today with Jetset Travelworld Limited (ASX:JET), a travel group partly owned by Qantas, cutting around 110 jobs and preparing to report a smaller annual profit. Also Qantas' budget subsidiary Jetstar is under investigation by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, following a landing incident in New Zealand earlier this month.
Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) will renovate 170 stores nationwide next year. The supermarket giant also announced overnight a reinvigorated advertising campaign “Australia’s fresh food people”, in the hope of regaining customers and sales lost to Coles.
Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX:LEI) and joint venture partner Leighton Welspun Contractors Private Limited has been awarded a $256 million project by India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Materials adding 241 points to close at 9,857. The worst performing, and only major sector to close in red, was Utilities, losing 11 points to close at 4976.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Paladin Energy Ltd (ASX:PDN), rising 8.04 per cent to close at $1.29. Shares in Fairfax Media Limited, as mentioned earlier (ASX:FXJ) also closed higher, as did Goodman Fielder Limited (ASX:GFF).
The worst performing stock was SP AusNet (ASX:SPN), dropping 8.81 per cent to close at $1.03. Shares in OceanaGold Corporation (ASX:OGC) and Seven West Media Limited (ASX:SWM) also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,622 an ounce. Light crude increased $0.75 at $US84.78 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.011.