Stronger-than-expected results boost markets: Aus shares close 0.6% higher

Market Reports

by Kathy Skantzos

The market rose steadily throughout the day, closing just off session highs, due to stronger-than-expected half yearly results. Utilities, industrials, health care and info tech lead the gains, and the energy sector closed in the red.

Infigen Energy (ASX:IFN) shot up after reporting an increase in net profit after tax and revenue for the half year. Beach Energy (ASX:IFN) and Domain (ASX:DHG) also saw gains after both companies reported an increase in revenue despite profits falling for the half year. GWA (ASX:GWA) lifted 11 per cent on the back of reporting a 7 per cent increase in net profit for the half year.

InvoCare’s (ASX:IVX) share price declined after reporting its full year results today, which showed a rise in impairments. Woodside’s (ASX:WPL) stock dropped after announcing the completion of its institutional entitlement offer which will fund its 50 per cent additional interest in the Scarborough gas field.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 38 points up, or 0.6 per cent higher/lower to finish at 5,942. On the futures market the SPI is 45 points up.

The value of trades was $2.1 billion on volume of 701 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Woodside (ASX:WPL), BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP), and Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG).

Company news 

Travel company Helloworld Travel (ASX:HLO) has reported a 39 per cent increase in profit before tax and an 18 per cent increase in EBITDA for the half year compared to the prior corresponding period. Total transaction value increased 2.7 per cent to $2.97 billion, underpinned by ticketing volume growth. The company declared an interim dividend of 7 cents per share, a 16.7 per cent increase compared to the prior corresponding period. Shares in Helloworld Travel (ASX:HLO) closed 4.1 per cent higher at $4.80.

Real estate company Charter Hall Retail REIT (ASX:CQR) has reported its portfolio value increased 5.2 per cent to $2.9 billion for the half year. Its net tangible assets increased 1.5 per cent to $4.19 per unit for the half year. The REIT’s operating earnings of $61.9 million or 15.3 cents per unit increased by 0.6 per cent for the half year. Shares in Charter Hall Retail REIT (ASX:CQR) closed 0.5 per cent lower at $3.66.

Oil and gas company Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) has reported its net profit fell by 7 per cent but its sales revenue increased 12 per cent for the half year compared to the previous year.

Supply chain logistics company Brambles (ASX:BXB) has reported its underlying profit rose about 1 per cent to US$494 US million for the first half of the 2018 financial year.

Health fund nib Holdings (ASX:NHF) has reported its profit fell about 1 per cent to $70.9 million for the half year to December 2017.

IPO

Betashares Legg Mason Equity Income (ASX:EIN) and Betashares Legg Mason Real Income (ASX:RIN) funds traded today.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Utilities adding 2 per cent to close at 7,794.
The worst performing sector was Energy, shedding 1.26 per cent to close at 10,231. points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was GWA Group (ASX:GWA), rising 11 per cent to close at $3.00. Shares in Infigen Energy (ASX:IFN) and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was InvoCare (ASX:IVC), dropping 8 per cent to close at $14.30. Shares in Woodside (ASX:WPL) and Myer (ASX:MYR) followed lower.

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has added 1.7 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and the Shanghai Composite were both flat.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,349 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.38 up at $US61.55 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 79.22 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading lower.

Bitcoin has fallen about 2 per cent to $10,662.
Tether has fallen 0.5 per cent to $1.00.
Ethereum has fallen 2 per cent to $933.

Kathy Skantzos

Finance News Network
Kathy presents the Market Outlook and ASX company news. She joined FNN in September 2017. She has been in print and online journalism for over 9 years. She also worked in corporate communications.