Bumper afternoon: Aus shares close 0.3% higher

Market Reports

by Jessica Ellerm

It has been a bumper afternoon of trade for the Australian share market. Taking a cue from strong overnight leads from the US, the ASX opened in the black, only to drift towards the opening marker in the lead up to lunch. But stocks found their momentum in afternoon trade, finishing the day 0.3 per cent higher.

As for the sectors, IT, Utilities and Industrials lead the charge, while Energy, Financials and Healthcare could only find modest gains in comparison.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 18 points up, or 0.3 per cent higher to finish at 5,964.

The value of trades was $4.87 billion on volume of 661 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were National Australian Bank (ASX:NAB), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).

On the futures market the SPI is 19 points up.

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has added 1.0 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is up 1.5 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has has risen 0.7 per cent.

Local economic news

The latest ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Index has been released, showing a 1.4 per cent rise. Last week’s ‘Yes’ vote on marriage equality is largely thought to have contributed to the jump in positive sentiment.

Company news

Austock Group (ASX:ACK) announced this afternoon a number of changes to management in its group and life arm. Bill Bessemer will step down as CEO of Austock Group, having facilitated a handover to Executive Chairman Rob Coombe, who joined the board in July 2017. Directors Ross Higgins and Eric Barr will also resign, effective after the company’s AGM tomorrow. Chaiman of Austock Life, Martyn Pickersgill will resign as independent chairman for health reasons, but will continue on the Board as a non-executive director. He will be replaced by Chris Freeman. And finally, Catherine van der Deen and Lucy Foster will replaced Ross Higgins as join CEOs of Austock Life. Shares in Austock Group (ASX:ACK) closed 0.5 per cent higher at $1.01

Software company Technology One (ASX:TNE) has recorded net profit before tax of $58 million for FY2017, a 9 per cent increase from the previous year, with revenue up 10 per cent to $273 million.

Real estate investment trust Charter Hall Retail (ASX:CQR) has divested $91 million of its non-core assets.

US-based onshore oil and gas exploration and production company Sundance Energy Australia (ASX:SEA) recorded an increase of 81 per cent in total revenue to $31.6 million compared to the same period last year in the company’s FY 2017 Q3 results.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Utilities adding 0.8 per cent to close at 8,468.
The worst performing sector was Energy, gaining 0.1 per cent to close at 10,065. points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Infigen Energy (ASX:IFN), rising 7.03 per cent to close at $0.69. Shares in Monadelphous Group (ASX:MND) and The A2 milk company (ASX:A2M) also closed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was ALS Limited (ASX:ALQ), dropping 7.36 per cent to close at $7.55. Shares in Graincorp (ASX:GNC) and Fisher & Paykel Limited (ASX:FPH) also closed lower.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,280 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.33 down at $US56.38 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 75.41 US cents.

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