Despite soft leads the Australian share market lifted at open and rose throughout the day to end 0.6 per cent stronger with all sectors ending on positive ground.
The S&P/ASX 200 index lifted 24 points to finish at 4,148. On the futures market the SPI is 20 points higher.
Fairfax Media Limited (ASX:FXJ)-owned Australian Property Monitors has reported national house prices rose 0.4 per cent to $544,673 in the June quarter. Apartment and townhouse prices eased by 0.8 per cent to $412,260 in the June quarter.
The Housing Industry Association says its June quarter trades report has confirmed widespread housing weakness. HIA says the report, a survey of builders and sub-contractors, highlights the increase in availability of skilled labour amid a decline in new home building and renovations activity.
Shares in Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN) leapt to the day’s best performer after Australia’s biggest airline confirmed it is in talks with a number of airlines about potential alliances. Qantas has only revealed Middle-East based airline Emirates as one of the possible alliance partners and says it is not the company’s policy to comment on the nature or status of these discussions. Shares in Qantas Airways leapt 9.6 per cent today, closing at $1.08.
Shares in Caltex Australia Limited (ASX:CTX) ended higher after the oil refining company said it will close its Kurnell refinery in New South Wales to save costs. The closure is expected to occur in the second half of 2014 and will result in at least 330 job cuts. Shares in Caltex Australia ended the day 1.42 per cent higher at $14.26.
Conglomerate Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES) has reported 3 per cent same store sales growth at its key Coles supermarket division in the fourth quarter.
Gold producer Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) has met its full year production targets, despite posting a fall in annual output, and affirmed its major project expansions remains on schedule.
Property developer Australand Property Group (ASX:ALZ) has reported a 6 per cent improvement in its half year net profit and forecast it will deliver earnings growth in the full year.
Defence technology company Metal Storm Limited (ASX:MST) has been placed in voluntary administration. The board says it hopes the company can be successfully restructured or its business sold as a going concern.
Best and worst performers
All sectors closed higher: The best performing sector was Consumer Discretionary adding 13 points to close at 1,240. The sector with the smallest gains was Materials, adding 20 points to close at 9,069 points.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN), rising 9.6 per cent to close at $1.08. Shares in Evolution Mining Limited (ASX:EVN) and Decmil Group Limited (ASX:DCG) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX:ALL), dropping 6.3 per cent to close at $2.38. Shares in Karoon Gas Australia Limited (ASX:KAR) and Kingsgate Consolidated Limited (ASX:KCN) also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,607 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.45 down at $US88.52 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.034.