The Australian share market had a stellar day of trade, recovering from yesterday’s losses, up over 1 per cent, our best close this week.
We did have positive leads from the get go, with Wall Street seeing its fourth day of gains, and the iron ore and oil prices rallying, resulting in the materials and energy sectors shining over 2 per cent. BHP gained about 4.6 per cent and Rio Tinto gained over 4 per cent or $3.20.
Traders and investors also enjoyed a bout of better than expected company financial results. The likes of HT&E (ASX:HT1) gained over 13 per cent today on the back of stronger revenues and earnings. In fact, most sectors finished in the green while property went the other way with the likes of Abacus Property Group (ASX:ABP) losing about 2 per cent.
Intellectual property services firm IPH (ASX:IPH) copped a lot of selling, losing around 20 per cent after it reported its half year 2018 financial results.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 68 points up, or 1.14 per cent higher to finish at 5,909.
The value of trades was $6.2 billion on volume of 807 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO).
On the futures market the SPI is 76 points up.
Female labour force participation hit an all-time high, while trend the unemployment rate for January remained steady at 5.5 per cent, where it has hovered for the past seven months, despite some expecting a drop to 5.4 per cent.
Private hospital and medical centre operator, Healthscope (ASX:HSO) reported a drop in statutory profits and earnings (EBITDA) for the half year ending December last year. Its group net profit after tax slumped 17 per cent over the period to $78 million on the back of a softer private hospital market. It also declared an interim dividend of 3.2 cents per share, also a drop from the prior corresponding period. Shares in Healthscope (ASX:HSO) finished 4.81 per cent lower at $1.78.
Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) reported a statutory loss of $207 million in the six months ending December, driven by impairment or write-down of $533 million after tax. Despite that, its underlying profit rose by $255 million to $428 million driven by earnings growth in the energy markets and Australia Pacific LNG.
Meantime, Bowen Coking Coal inked a deal to buy Cape Coal’s rights with Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) Exploration or RXT. The deal will see RXT or Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) Exploration receive $1.1 million.
And Oil and gas company, Oil Search (ASX:OSH) has completed the US$400 million purchase of its interest in Alaska North Slope. The company says it’s a world class opportunity and will drive value to shareholders.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was materials adding 2.51 per cent to close at 11,797.
The worst performing sector was REITs, shedding 0.24 per cent to close at 1,282. points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was HT & E (ASX:HT1), rising 13.14 per cent to close at $1.77. Shares in Resolute Mining (ASX:RSG) and Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) followed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was IPH (ASX: IPH), dropping 19.92 per cent to close at $4.10. Shares in Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (ASX:DMP) and Company South32 (ASX:S32) followed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei is up 1.47 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is up 1.97 per cent and the Shanghai Composite is closed for a public holiday.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,354 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.59 up at $US60.62 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 79.32 US cents.
The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading higher: Bitcoin has gained 9.8 per cent to $9,711, Ethereum rose about 7.8 per cent to $934, Ripple gained about 8.2 per cent to $1.14.